The Rabbit Is Me

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The Rabbit Is Me
The Rabbit Is Me.jpg
Directed by Kurt Maetzig
Produced by Martin Sonnabend
Written by Manfred Bieler
Kurt Maetzig
Starring Angelika Waller
Music by Reiner Bredemeyer, Gerhard Rosenfeld
Cinematography Erich Gusko
Edited by Helga Krause
Distributed by PROGRESS-Film Verleih
Release date
  • 26 October 1965 (1965-10-26)
Running time
110 minutes
Country East Germany
Language German

The Rabbit Is Me (German: Das Kaninchen bin ich) is an East German dramatic film directed by Kurt Maetzig.[1] It was filmed in 1965, and based on the novel by Manfred Bieler.


Nineteen-year-old Maria Morzeck dreams of studying Slavistics, but her hopes are shattered when her brother, Dieter, is sent to prison after being convicted of sedition against the state. She cannot enter college, and becomes a waitress. Maria meets and falls in love with Paul Deister, an older, married man who turns out to be the judge who convicted her brother. Their affair ends when Deister is exposed as hypocritical and corrupt. After Dieter's release, he learns of his sister's relationship with the judge and assaults her. Eventually, Maria distances herself from both of them, and decides to pursue her forgotten dream.



The film was based on Manfred Bieler's book Maria Morzeck or the Rabbit is Me. It was made in the aftermath of the VI Party Congress of the Socialist Unity Party at January 1963, during which the establishment allowed a measure of liberalization in the cultural life of East Germany. Although Bieler's novel was highly critical of the court system, he and Maetzig took care to include several "alibi scenes" in the film that were intended to put the state in a better light and also prevent the banning of the picture. The scenes were also meant to present the judicial reforms that took place between 1961 and 1963.[2]


The short era of liberalization ended gradually when Leonid Brezhnev took power in the Soviet Union and introduced a conservative, more repressive course on cultural questions. The film, alongside eleven other cinematic works that were deemed politically damaging, was banned by the Central Committee of the SED at its XI Plenum in December 1965.[3] It was only made legal again in 1990.[4] The banned films were known as "cellar films" or "rabbit films" - the second sobriquet having been derived from the film's title.

At 1990, shortly before the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the picture was released for public screening, and presented in the Berlin and Locarno film festivals. In 1995 it was elected as one of the 100 most important German films by a group of historians and critics.[5]

Daniela Berghahn noted that The Rabbit Is Me was unprecedented in its portrayal of judicial corruption, sexual themes and criticism of the East German establishment.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Poss, Ingrid (2006). Spur der Filme: Zeitzeugen über die DEFA. Ch. Links Verlag. pp. 202–05. ISBN 978-3-86153-401-3. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Joshua Feinstein. The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949-1989. ISBN 978-0-8078-5385-6. Pages 158-175.
  3. ^ Allan, Seán; Sandford, John (1999). DEFA: East German cinema, 1946-1992. Berghahn Books. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-57181-753-2. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Bock, Hans-Michael; Bergfelder, Tim (30 December 2009). The concise Cinegraph: encyclopaedia of German cinema. Berghahn Books. p. 304. ISBN 978-1-57181-655-9. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  5. ^ The Rabbit Is Me on PROGRESS-Film Verleih.
  6. ^ Daniela Berghahn. Hollywood behind the Wall: the cinema of East Germany. ISBN 978-0-7190-6172-1. Pages 150-161.


  • Günter Adge (Hrsg.): Kahlschlag. Das 11. Plenum des ZK der SED. Studien und Dokumente. 2. erweiterte Auflage. Aufbau Taschenbuch, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-7466-8045-X.
  • Christiane Mückenberger (Hrsg.): Prädikat: Besonders schädlich. Filmtexte. Henschel Verlag, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-362-00478-4.
  • Ingrid Poss, Peter Warnecke (Hrsg.): Spur der Filme. Zeitzeugen über die DEFA. Links, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-86153-401-0, (Schriftenreihe der DEFA-Stiftung).
  • Neues Deutschland, 6. Januar 1966.
  • Frankfurter Rundschau 1990.

External links[edit]