Behind the Wall, Tabs Were Kept - Gay City News | Gay City News
Quantcast

Behind the Wall, Tabs Were Kept

A still from a Stasi film of Petra Epperlein’s childhood classroom, with her eyes the only ones not blacked out in this image. | BOND/ 360

A still from a Stasi film of Petra Epperlein’s childhood classroom, with her eyes the only ones not blacked out in this image. | BOND/ 360

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Karl Marx City” opens with home movies, presumably from co-director Petra Epperlein’s childhood in East Germany. The images show innocent fun, but a voice-over (delivered by a young girl) declares that the movies were shot by the Stasi, the former Soviet satellite’s secret police.

The film, made by Epperlein and her husband Michael Tucker, is a documentary, but it comes close to being a genre film, exploring the mystery behind the suicide of Epperlein’s father, Wolfgang. He killed himself within a few years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, hounded by anonymous letters claiming he was a Stasi agent. He left an odd suicide note for Petra ending with “best regards” and claiming he was killing himself because he couldn’t stand life in Germany anymore.

Epperlein and Tucker start their film by investigating whether it could really be true that her father was a Stasi agent. Although the voice-over, as far as I could tell from the press kit, is delivered (in a half-German, half-American accent) by Epperlein’s daughter, Matilda Tucker, not Epperlein herself, the co-director’s presence dominates the film. “Karl Marx City” could almost be a spiritual sequel — or feminist answer — to Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” in which male angels watch over Berlin a few years before the Wall fell. Epperlein comes across as their female equivalent, although she’s in the former Karl Marx City (now once again known as Chemnitz), where she grew up, not Berlin. Nevertheless, she’s a cosmopolitan flâneur of sorts, always clad in a leather coat, wearing headphones and carrying a huge microphone. These function as visual props, but they’re genuinely necessary: Epperlein recorded sound for the film while Tucker, whose presence is completely invisible, filmed her.

Petra Epperlein investigates the East Germany whose demise her father could not survive

Most of “Karl Marx City” was shot in high-contrast black and white. I think many Americans think this is the only way to do justice to a story about East German spies, as though the directors were adapting a ‘60s John Le Carré novel in documentary form. The beauty of Tucker’s cinematography speaks for itself, but it was also shot to be able to integrate well with archival footage, also filmed in black and white. The Stasi trained their agents to shoot in public with hidden cameras. The film even manages to find a surveillance camera remake of the Lumière brothers’ early cinema landmark “Workers Leaving the Factory.”

In the years after the Wall fell, the former East Germany had a sky-high suicide rate and many other problems. Some areas of the former East Germany are now plagued by far more poverty than the affluent West and an increasing problem with racism and xenophobia. Some writers have compared to the psychological effects of the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany with the end of America’s Civil War. While I’m not likening white East Germans to African Americans in any way, they seem to still bear the marks of difference to their Western counterparts, who are richer and more adjusted to capitalism.

East Germany became the world’s largest surveillance state, with huge numbers of Stasi agents infiltrating every aspect of public and private life. (This contributed to the post-Wall suicide spike, with many agents who were exposed in the early ‘90s taking their own lives.) “Karl Marx City” went into production around the time Edward Snowden went public with his revelations about the NSA. Epperlein has expressed her reservations regarding the totalitarian potential of social media, creating a world where the Stasi doesn’t need to exist because people post all kinds of data about themselves on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and elsewhere. Watching the film, I suddenly remembered that I belong to Goodreads and have been supplying anyone who has access to my Facebook feed with a list of all the books I’ve read for the past five years. I like the ability to share this list with my friends and don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg is snooping in; the FBI and NSA are another story.

Famously, William Faulkner said that the past is never really past. Epperlein gets an answer to her questions about her father. Her pain remains raw. And if the former East Germany is freer now, America and the rest of Europe are inheriting some of the problems it once had with surveillance.


KARL MARX CITY | Directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker | Bond/ 360 | In English and German with English subtitles | Opens Mar. 29 | Film Forum,209 W. Houston St., btwn. Sixth Ave. & Varick St. | filmforum.org

28 Responses to Behind the Wall, Tabs Were Kept

  1. Pingback: Steve Erickson’s Re-Configured Blog Pages – Site Title

  2. rankbuilders September 28, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    It is a great website.. The Design looks very good.. Keep working like that!.
    먹튀

    Reply
  3. تنظيف خزانات بالطائف October 23, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    It is a great website

    Reply
  4. bond550 November 1, 2017 at 3:30 am

    Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may just I get that kind of information written in such an ideal means? I have a venture that I’m just now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such information.
    antique book

    Reply
  5. bond550 November 6, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
    antique book

    Reply
  6. bond550 November 9, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Great post, you have pointed out some excellent points, I as well believe this is a very superb website.
    http://ihowtolosefatfast.com/

    Reply
  7. jamsmalik December 20, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Great post. and great website. Thanks for the information!
    winnersroadmap.com

    Reply
  8. jamsmalik December 22, 2017 at 10:06 am

    It was a very good post indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in my lunch time. Will surely come and visit this blog more often. Thanks for sharing.
    Prêt rapide sans enquête de crédit

    Reply
  9. jamsmalik December 25, 2017 at 6:22 am

    These are some great tools that i definitely use for SEO work. This is a great list to use in the future..
    Inverter Generator

    Reply
  10. jamsmalik December 25, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.
    Inverter Generator

    Reply
  11. jamsmalik December 26, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Thanks for this article very helpful. thanks.
    Same Day Printing Leeds

    Reply
  12. QmmMovers January 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Someone Sometimes with visits your blog regularly and recommended it in my experience to read as well. The way of writing is excellent and also the content is top-notch. Thanks for that insight you provide the readers!
    remove pdf pages

    Reply
  13. QmmMovers January 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Wow what a Great Information about World Day its very nice informative post. thanks for the post.
    Longest Running Film Franchises

    Reply
  14. QmmMovers January 4, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may just I get that kind of information written in such an ideal means? I have a venture that I’m just now operating on. and I have been on the look out for such information.
    Virtual reality tours Malaga

    Reply
  15. jamsmalik January 10, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Thank you very much for this great post.
    Real life stories
    Real life stories

    Reply
  16. QmmMovers January 30, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Enter text right here!This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again.
    taktikjudi

    Reply
  17. QmmMovers January 30, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Enter text right here!This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again.
    taktikjudi

    Reply
  18. QmmMovers January 30, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Enter text right here!This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again.
    taktikjudi

    Reply
  19. QmmMovers January 30, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Enter text right here!This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again.
    taktikjudi

    Reply
  20. jamsmalik January 30, 2018 at 10:57 am

    The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..life change reviews

    Reply
  21. jamsmalik February 15, 2018 at 8:04 am

    I found your this post while searching for some related information on blog search…Its a good post..keep posting and update the information.hide wp admin url

    Reply
  22. jamsmalik March 5, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this..
    site

    Reply
  23. jamsmalik March 5, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this..
    site

    Reply
  24. jamsmalik March 6, 2018 at 3:26 am

    Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!..
    see

    Reply
  25. jamsmalik March 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
    see

    Reply
  26. jamsmalik March 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
    see

    Reply
  27. jamsmalik March 10, 2018 at 9:08 am

    If you set out to make me think today; mission accomplished! I really like your writing style and how you express your ideas. Thank you.
    czekolada na urodziny

    Reply
  28. jamsmalik March 19, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site . perfectly great articles .
    china sourcing agency

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


+ seven = thirteen