Divided Heaven

Rated 4.0

This 1964 East German film is based on an internationally acclaimed novel by Christa Wolf. Told in a rather disjointed fashion, it is the story of a love affair in the tumultuous times immediately before the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. Rita is a student-teacher who works part time in a passenger-car factory; she lives with her fiancé, Manfred, a chemist. When Manfred’s new procedure for a chemical process is rejected by his superiors, he defects to West Berlin in search of academic freedom. Rita follows him, but returns to the East, dismayed by the rampant materialism she sees in the West. The conflict between the political hacks (like Rita’s fellow student, Mangold, a party-line hard-core) and people who just want to make a decent life for themselves (her fellow workers in the rail-car factory) is fairly mild and not terribly political. But the vision of those who fled to the West as cowards and traitors who abandoned their friends, families and lovers for selfish reasons is certainly a different take than what we’ve been exposed to before.