Wolfgang Kohlhaase

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The Silent Star Review


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Between the end of World War II in 1945 and the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany, in Western shorthand) was among those Soviet satellite states whose films effectively disappeared from the world stage - or at least that part of the stage that lay beyond the Iron Curtain. In fact, the GDR had a thriving film industry throughout those four decades, producing over 600 feature films, and every one of them emerged from the Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft, a state-run studio better known by the acronym DEFA. Thanks to the recent establishment of a DEFA film library at the University of Massachusetts, many of these films are being made available in North America for the first time. And among DEFA's minor treasures we find East Germany's premiere sci-fi picture, 1960's The Silent Star.

Like Andrei Tarkovsky's Soviet-made Solaris, which it predates by over a decade, The Silent Star is based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem. It has a rather more serious comportment than much of the sci-fi produced contemporaneously in the West (although it's never an "art" film, as Tarkovsky's are), and, also like Solaris, it boasts a lavish production and a prominent director (Kurt Maetzig, whose filmography includes over 20 titles). The appearance of The Silent Star, one imagines, was an event in 1960 more than just a "release," and even at the distance of 40-some years it's easy enough to see why.

Continue reading: The Silent Star Review

The Silent Star Review


Good
Between the end of World War II in 1945 and the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany, in Western shorthand) was among those Soviet satellite states whose films effectively disappeared from the world stage - or at least that part of the stage that lay beyond the Iron Curtain. In fact, the GDR had a thriving film industry throughout those four decades, producing over 600 feature films, and every one of them emerged from the Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft, a state-run studio better known by the acronym DEFA. Thanks to the recent establishment of a DEFA film library at the University of Massachusetts, many of these films are being made available in North America for the first time. And among DEFA's minor treasures we find East Germany's premiere sci-fi picture, 1960's The Silent Star.

Like Andrei Tarkovsky's Soviet-made Solaris, which it predates by over a decade, The Silent Star is based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem. It has a rather more serious comportment than much of the sci-fi produced contemporaneously in the West (although it's never an "art" film, as Tarkovsky's are), and, also like Solaris, it boasts a lavish production and a prominent director (Kurt Maetzig, whose filmography includes over 20 titles). The appearance of The Silent Star, one imagines, was an event in 1960 more than just a "release," and even at the distance of 40-some years it's easy enough to see why.

Continue reading: The Silent Star Review

Wolfgang Kohlhaase

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