Divided Heaven (film)

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Divided Heaven
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-C0712-0002-008, Karlsbad, Filmfestival, Beyer, Bodenstein, Lesser, Simenow, Witt.jpg
Guests in the premiere of Divided Heaven in the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. 12 July 1964.
Directed by Konrad Wolf
Produced by Hans-Joachim Funk
Written by Christa Wolf, Gerhard Wolf, Konrad Wolf, Willi Brückner, Kurt Barthel
Starring Renate Blume
Music by Hans-Dieter Hosalla
Cinematography Werner Bergmann
Edited by Helga Krause
Distributed by PROGRESS-Film Verleih
Release dates
  • 9 March 1964 (1964-03-09)
(commercial release)
Running time 116 minutes
Country East Germany
Language German

Divided Heaven (German: Der geteilte Himmel) is an East German drama film directed by Konrad Wolf. It was released in 1964.


While recovering from a mental breakdown, the young Rita Seidel recalls the last two years, in which she fell in love with Manfred, a chemist who is ten years older. As Manfred became disillusioned with his opportunities in East Germany, he moved to the West. Rita followed him there and tried to persuade him to return but soon realized he would never do it. Rita comes to terms with the past and decides to concentrate on her work and the building of a socialist society. Although some of the characters are shown as overzealous in their support of the regime, for obvious reasons the nature of the East German dictatorship is never depicted or discussed. The Stasi, the all-pervasive secret police headed by the director's brother Markus Wolf, is not mentioned.The film is set in the period immediately before the erection of the Berlin Wall.



The film's script was adapted from Christa Wolf's novel Divided Heaven, released in 1963. Director Konrad Wolf had read the author's manuscript, before the book was published, and decided to film it. Principal photography took place in Halle from late 1963 to early 1964.[1]


Divided Heaven was viewed by 1.5 million people in the first year after its premiere.[2] In 1965, Konrad Wolf and leading actor Eberhard Esche both received the Erich Weinert Medal for their work on the film.[3]

A contemporary critic from the West German Süddeutsche Zeitung's described the film as "perhaps the best German film since the war."[4] Die Zeit's reviewer wrote "Although it was made by communists... Konrad and Christa Wolf had to break away from their belief in the party in order to make this picture... And that is why it is so convincing."[5] West German author Hans Helmut Prinzler called it "the first candid attempt to portray the national consciousnesses in East Germany."[2]

The film was removed from circulation on several occasions in the following years, when the Socialist Unity Party of Germany decreed it, depending on the political situation.[6] In one resolution to remove it, in 1970, a Ministry of Culture official concluded that it "unnecessarily over-stresses the theme of the flight from the Republic."[7]

In 1995, a group of historians and cinema researchers chose Divided Heaven as one of the 100 most important German films ever made.[8]


  1. ^ Ralf Schenk. Der Geteilte Himmel. Published in Film-Dienst, Issue 1. Katholisches Institut für Medieninformationen (2004). ISSN 0720-0781. Page 12.
  2. ^ a b Daniela Berghahn. Hollywood Behind the Wall: the Cinema of East Germany. ISBN 978-0-7190-6172-1. Page 193.
  3. ^ Der Geteilte Himmel. defa.de.
  4. ^ Divided Heaven on the University of Massachusetts Amherst's DEFA Film Library.
  5. ^ Paul Sethe. Deutschlands geteilter Himmel. Die Zeit, 4 February 1966.
  6. ^ Frank Burkhard Habel. Das große Lexikon der DEFA-Spielfilme. ISBN 3-89602-349-7. Page 211.
  7. ^ DEFA commission protocol, 25 August 1970. filmportal.de.
  8. ^ Der geteilte Himmel. progress-film.de.

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