Dolles Familienalbum (1969– )

TV Series
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2   1  
1971   1969  
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Liselott Baumgarten
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September 1969 (West Germany)  »

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Peyton Place in East-Germany
2 August 2012 | by (Netherlands, Utrecht) – See all my reviews

The TV series Dolles Familienalbum is the East-German (GDR) version of Peyton Place or Coronation Street. Obviously it is recorded in black-and-white. In nine episodes of about an hour each the series tells the story of an extended family living in Berlin, I guess in the Pankow district. The family members do not experience extraordinary events, but just need to cope with their daily problems. What can you gain by watching the DVDs? As far as I am concerned, I feel irritated how our governments demonize and ridicule states with anti-capitalist systems. I like to judge for myself. And believe me, you will not be bored during those ten hours. For the series is essentially a gay comedy, with likable or at least humane characters. Yes, just like Peyton Place. Sure, I admit that during the first episodes it appeared to be somewhat droll and languid. But after a while I noticed many (possibly) covert meanings (!!). That made my day. And I may well have missed a few, you know, considering that my acquaintance with the GDR is only mediocre. Are there any native East-Germans out here? Amazing, you don't find IMDb or Amazon scary, do you? Contrary to my usual approach I will not relate the whole story. It is overwhelming, and the space on IMDb is just insufficient. But sketching the background will give you a clue, I guess. Most of the events occur in the large family house, an inn, which used to be the home for the civic guard. Here four generations Dolle and their families live together. The husband in the second generation, Willi Dolle, likes to write family diaries, and the series is based on their contents. The episodes 1-5 describe the family milestones during the era 1945-1967, which basically comprises the foundation years of the GDR. People were veeeery cooperative back then. Reeeeally. The episodes 6-9 focus on the expropriation and demolition of the family house by the community. I suspect that this double structure (rise vs. abolition) was actually the leading thread for the script writers, let us say their inner motivation. The hidden message was probably not meant to be objectionable propaganda tough. The writers simply overflow with pride about their new Bolshevist state. Yes, there is some politics, but it does not dominate. In fact much time is spent on romance, yes romance, when we witness the love affairs of two generations Dolle. It is really a love story, clumsy but well meant. May I finally do a little interpreting? We seem to watch the conversion of some common people into well-educated Bolshevists. Willi is soon converted into a party bureaucrat. But during many episodes Martha, his wife, vehemently resists the expropriation of the inn (I wonder how their sex life is). She feels that her life work (the inn) is destroyed, and apparently clings to the evil spirits of capitalism, hallucinating about clientèle and goodwill and all that. Fortunately it ends happily, for she concedes. Now she says: "You should be able to part with the old things, and enjoy the new ones. Especially when the old one is decaying". Evidently here (unwittingly!?!) the inn is a metaphor for the capitalist society. After the conversion of Martha the only remaining opponent against the changes is Gottlieb (Godlove?), Willi's father, and an admirer of "Der Kaiser" and perhaps even Hitler. Apparently some people are incorrigible... Yet another (!) funny detail is in the title-part, where about a quarter of the main cast consists of prize-winners. This was the cheap Bolshevist alternative for the extravagant salaries in Hollywood. Sometimes the party was actually right!


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