Andreas Goldstein • Director
“While I did see the problems, I am still pro-socialism”
by Jan Lumholdt
- VENICE 2018: German director Andreas Goldstein takes us back to 1989 with Adam & Evelyn, a laconic portrait of the fall of the Berlin Wall
Early in the evening of 9 November 1989, author Ingo Schulze fell asleep in his Altenburg home in the then German Democratic Republic. When he awoke, the Berlin Wall was down. On several occasions, his writing deals with everyday life in the GDR with minor, if any, involvement in any political turmoil. In the novel Adam & Evelyn, we follow a young couple from a typical GDR town during the second half of 1989, planning their summer holidays, having lovers’ tiffs, making up and moving on. Their story has now been brought to the screen in Adam & Evelyn [+see also:
interview: Andreas Goldstein
film profile] by director Andreas Goldstein, himself well acquainted with what happened there and then – or what didn’t happen, as the case may be. The movie is screening in the Venice International Film Critics’ Week.
Cineuropa: There are a number of films depicting life in the GDR and also a fair amount dealing with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Your adaptation of Ingo Schulze’s novel is a very different story in comparison.
Andreas Goldstein: My definite intention was to make something different. Many of the historical accounts in some of the films are very dramatised, with, on the one hand, the quest for freedom and, on the other, the repressiveness of the state. In reality, of course, things were much more complex, which should be obvious in this portrait. The spirit of Schulze’s novel is the very laconic behaviour of the characters, which for me was very important. They’re in their private world, and only occasionally do the historical events cross paths with them.
Like when we see Evelyn lounging on her bed while the radio announcer reports on the masses moving into West Berlin. Of course, not everyone was out that day; they may well have been at home with a cup of coffee, doing something mundane…
Much like me. On the day the Berlin Wall came down, I was at home in Berlin. I was watching television and my feeling was that this must surely have been staged in some way. I didn’t go out for another three days.
The film has a very special look, almost timeless in its cleanness – yet we can feel the time and the period.
It was important to give it the look of the time, but at the same time we didn’t want to use the usual “props” from the period, those stereotypical GDR things like the Spreewald gherkin and such, which really don’t say anything about the GDR or the feeling of it. We wanted to clear those images totally out of the picture.
As we concluded, there’s been a wave of films about the era over these last two decades. What’s your impression of them?
As I said, I feel the conflicts are so very reduced. And I feel many of them are arguments to defend the capitalistic system, a system very much in crisis these days. And what better scapegoat to use, then, than the GDR? While I did see the problems, I am still pro-socialism.
Did your life change when the Berlin Wall came down?
I can’t really tell. I was a student, a typical adolescent, and had not yet entered into the adult world of earning a living. But I remember the film school in Potsdam in 1991 and how the GDR was still very much alive there. The structure was very authoritarian.
Adam & Evelyn is your feature debut. What have you been doing all these years?
I have been working in production in order to make a living. I did a short film 12 years ago that was here at Venice, and now I felt like expressing myself with a long feature. I’m also shooting a documentary about my father, who was a GDR functionary. He was born in the Kaiser era and lived through Weimar, the Nazis, the GDR and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He wasn’t at all surprised – he saw that it wasn’t working any more.
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