The TV series Daniel Druskat is yet another "Aufbau" (build-up) story about the structural changes in the countryside under the Leninist rule. In this respect it is a congener of the Italian film "Novecento", but also of other DEFA products like "Rauhreif", "Wege uebers Land" and "Schloesser und Katen". Typical in all these films are the historical remnants of a feudal past and large land-ownership, the more recent rise and fall of fascism, and the ensuing political battle between Leninism and capitalism. After fascism anything goes. Don't bite the hand that looks dirty. Since in East-Germany the forced transformation into a collective agriculture was finished already around 1960, the Druskat series (1975) can offer a matured retrospective view. The older DEFA films are still crammed with unjustified ideological pedantry, which will please only the cynics (!). The Druskat series is more conciliatory towards the fierce farmers' resistance against the collective agriculture. Thus it is indeed comparable to Novecento, that also takes a rather neutral stance. And better, if you only speak German. Even in 1975 many farmers still bemoaned the loss of their economic freedom for nothing. Private barriers had been slashed, just like the ideology propagates. Joke: why is the farmer hopping mad? Because someone stepped on his corn. Obviously the film makers did not want to agonize and provoke this large and vital group. In fact the main theme of the Druskat series is the political fight between a small farmer (Daniel Druskat) with Leninist ambitions and a gifted gentleman-farmer (Max Stephan). Druskat has the support of the party and the state, whereas Stephan has his personal charm and the support of his fellow-farmers. Of course Stephan must eventually bow for the state interference, but he is smart enough to become the director of the newly formed cooperation in his village Horbeck. Druskat is appointed as a director of the adjacent cooperation in Altenstein. Stephan is a professional and manages to play on the feelings of the party officials. His cooperation out-performs the one in Altenstein. Again Druskat seeks the support of the party. He argues that the backward cooperations should be supported, not the excellent ones. And again he politically defeats Stephan. Stephan doesn't really mind, because "socialism should be pleasant". Living between cattle and pigs, he knows what is avoidable(!), for instance being disgruntled. It goes in one ear and out the udder. Old farmers never die, they just go to seed. End of a stirring story. As a bonus it contains some suspense due to a terrible and secret youth sin of Druskat. Besides, in passing Druskat cheats on his incurably ill wife. Deceit of a bureaucrat. Evidently the makers reveal his human weakness, just to prove that man can only prosper with the support of the party. It is piquant, that shortly after the completion of the Druskat series the protest singer Wolf Biermann was evicted from East-Germany, for political reasons. Many artists were outraged, and asked for exit permits. Among them was the famous Manfred Krug, who had just played Stephan (other excellent roles in Beschreibung eines Sommers, Fuenf Patronenhuelsen, Wege uebers Land). Indeed he moved to West-Germany, where he continued to act. Nevertheless, the Druskat series remains an impressive and cordial well-explored character study, made with the usual DEFA craftsmanship. More than seven hours, so for many evenings it's a festival to switch on the TV (joke). Highly recommended, albeit unfortunately without subtitles.
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