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Berliner Ballade
Directed by Chris Marker
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In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the France 2 news show Envoyé spécial sent Chris Marker to East Berlin in the lead-up to the first free elections in decades. BERLINER BALLADE is the film Marker made, but the program which commissioned it never aired it in its entirety.

Marker takes us onto the streets of Berlin—showing crowds of pedestrians, sausage vendors, even people creating fake Berlin Wall souvenirs to sell. He juxtaposes these images with archival footage of the wall and its surroundings, Hitler in a triumphant motorcade, and a stark row of crosses bearing the names (when known) and date of death of those killed trying to cross over into East Germany.

The film is punctuated with short interviews featuring artists and activists grappling with what life in this new Germany means for the left. Jutta Braband, later elected to the Bundestag, is frustrated by other activists’ hesitancy to even speak of “the left” as a force anymore. Author Stephan Hermlin says, given the choice between “fascist barbarism and Stalinist barbarism” he chose the latter. Now, he says, a better society lies in the future, but “very far from us.” Still, there is clearly hope among those who cast their ballots on election day.

As the votes are tallied, the Christian Democrats carry the day. It is the start of a new reality for Berliners, and one many clearly greet with mixed feelings.

29 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2021
Copyright: 1990

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