|Developed by||Gerhard Behrendt|
|Country of origin||East Germany (1959–1990)|
|Original languages||German, Sorbian|
|No. of seasons||61|
|No. of episodes||22,200|
|Original network||Deutscher Fernsehfunk|
|Original release||22 November 1959 –|
|Related shows||Das Sändmannchen|
Unser Sandmännchen, Das Sandmännchen, Abendgruß, Sandmann, Sandmännchen (Little Sandman) is a German children's bedtime television programme using stop motion animation. The puppet was based on the Ole Lukøje character by Hans Christian Andersen.
The series has aired more episodes than any other television series and is the longest running animated television series in history.
The original idea came from Ilse Obrig of West Berlin TV and radio station Sender Freies Berlin (SFB), who with the help of author Johanna Schüppel, developed a working version in 1958. The Little Sandman himself first appeared on screen in West Berlin in Sandmännchens Gruß für Kinder (Sandmännchen's Greeting to Children) on 1 December 1959, and other episodes were soon made.
However, on 22 November 1959 (only three weeks after the production had started), East German television Deutscher Fernsehfunk (DFF) began broadcasting its own Unser Sandmännchen, complete with its own "good night, children" character, also called Sandmännchen.
Created by the puppetmaster and director Gerhard Behrendt, the East German show represented everyday life, travel, and fantastic adventures. The character often showcased socialist technological achievements, such as the use of awe-inspiring vehicles like futuristic cars and flying devices. It was very popular with GDR citizens to the point that after the wall fell, former citizens lamented the appropriation of the beloved cartoon by corporate West German television.
The production of the West German version of Sandmännchen ceased in 1991, following the unification of Germany. The East German version was ultimately more popular, and repeats of episodes are still broadcast today. A full-length feature film, Das Sandmännchen - Abenteuer im Traumland (The Sandman and the Lost Sand of Dreams), was released in 2010.
Opening verse (on the Sandman's arrival):
- "Sandmann, lieber Sandmann, es ist noch nicht so weit!
- Wir sehen erst den Abendgruß, ehe jedes Kind ins Bettchen muß,
- du hast gewiß noch Zeit."
- Sandman, dear Sandman, it's not yet time!
- First we'll watch the "Evening Greeting" before every child must go to bed.
- Surely you have time for that.
There was a second verse which was dropped after the German reunification because it mentions the East German Fernsehfunk which no longer existed:
- "Sandmann, lieber Sandmann, hab nur nicht solche Eil!
- Dem Abendgruß vom Fernsehfunk lauscht jeden Abend alt und jung,
- sei unser Gast derweil."
- Sandman, dear Sandman, don't be in such a rush!
- Everyone, young and old, listens to the "Evening Greeting" every night.
- Please be our guest for that.
Closing verse (when he leaves):
- "Kinder, liebe Kinder, das hat mir Spaß gemacht.
- Nun schnell ins Bett und schlaft recht schön.
- Dann will auch ich zur Ruhe gehn. Ich wünsch' euch gute Nacht."
- Children, dear children, that was fun.
- Now, quick, to bed and sleep tight.
- Then I will also go and rest. I wish you a good night.
The score and overall design of the show was remarkably elaborate for a children's television production. The Sandman often visited other countries, and this fact was frequently emphasised by the use of traditional instrumentation and harmony added to the score.
The theme song in Norway went as follows:
- "Hvem er denne karen med skjegg og lue på?
- Han ligner litt på nissen i grunn, det er ikke ham det er Jon Blund.
- Han besøker store og små."
In English this means:
- (Who is this man with a beard and a hat on?
- He looks a bit like santa actually, but it's not him it's Jon Blund.
- He visits children big and small.)
The first verse of the theme song in Swedish was:
- "Titta, kom och titta, kom sätt er här omkring.
- Det dröjer säkert ännu en stund innan sömnen kommer med Jon Blund.
- Han vill visa oss någonting."
In English this means:
- "Look, come look, come sit down around here.
- It will surely be a while yet before sleep comes with Jon Blund.
- He wants to show us something."
The theme song in Finland was:
- Nukkumatti, nukkumatti lasten, illoin kulkee, heittää unihiekkaa.
- Päivän leikit aika lopettaa on, kun TV:n iltasatu alkaa.
- Satu päättyi näin ja lapset käyvät jo nukkumaan, siis hyvää yötä.
In English this means:
- (Sandman, the children's own Sandman, makes his rounds at night, sprinkling dream sand.
- It's time to cease the games of the day, when the TV bedtime story begins.
- Thus ended the fairy-tale, and the children are already going to bed, so good night.)
The Sandmännchen stories contained a number of characters who remain popular today:
- Pittiplatsch, a little round-bodied kobold, with his friends Schnatterinchen, a duck, and Moppi, a dog
- Herr Fuchs, a fox, and his friend Frau Elster, a magpie
- Plumps, a water sprite, and his friend Küken, a baby chicken
In popular culture
Even after German unification merged the former German Democratic Republic into the Federal Republic of Germany, the Sandmännchen has retained a following, and it continues to be shown every night on German television. Periodic references have been made to it in film and literature.
- In 2009 the band Oomph! released the single "Sandmann". The song is about the child poverty in Germany and has many references to Sandmännchen.
- Unser Sandmännchen is featured in the 2003 film Good Bye Lenin!.
- The German industrial metal band Rammstein uses the opening monologue from the West German Sandmännchen, Nun, liebe Kinder, gebt fein Acht. Ich habe euch etwas mitgebracht (Now, dear children, pay attention. I have brought you something), in the intro to their song "Mein Herz brennt". The original demo version of the song was called "Sandmann". In the demo version, the contents had a darker tone than the finished version. In "Sandmann", a psychopath has murdered the real Sandmann, and masquerades as him.
- The Norwegian 52 minute long documentary Sandmann - Historien om en sosialistisk supermann (Sandmännchen - The history of a socialistic superman) by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen from 2005 looks back on the rise and fall of East German socialism through the tales of Sandmann.
- An application for iOS has been released on 11 November 2015.
- Unser Sandmännchen is the protagonist of the pop-essay La Repubblica di Sabbiolino - DDR... ma non troppo! (The Sandman Republic - DDR… but not too much!), by italian journalist Francesco Cristino published in Italy in 2020.
- "60 Jahre "Unser Sandmännchen" Sechs Fakten zum Sandmann" (in German). Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
- Score and audio recording of the Sandman theme song
- Anette Tiller: Sandmann, lieber Sandmann..., in: Main-Post Jan. 10, 2014.
- "John Blund - Östtysk dockteater i SVT 1973". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-05.
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