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Der König und sein Narr

The eighties were marked by Prussia throughout Berlin. In 1980, Erich Honecker had Frederick the Great's equestrian statue reinstalled on the boulevard Unter den Linden, and in the western part of the city there were several exhibitions, including Prussia - Attempt at a Review in the Gropius-Bau. "Prussia is everywhere, now also in television drama," stated Der Spiegel in September 1981. What was meant was Frank Beyer's first film made in the Federal Republic, Der König und sein Narr (The King and His Fool), whose screenplay was written by Ulrich Plenzdorf based on a novel by Martin Stade. Both Plenzdorf and Stade had protested against Biermann's expatriation in 1976. Their film is a parable of how power deals with the mind: Wolfgang Kieling plays Professor Jakob Paul von Gundling, the "fool" who travels the country on behalf of the king, played by Götz George, reporting to him on grievances, discontent and corruption. But how does the king deal with this news? Frank Beyer commented soberly on his first work experiences in the West: "In long years of apprenticeship in the GDR, I had understood how to compromise on ideological questions without touching the substance of a film. In a short course during the preparation of the film Der König und sein Narr, I now also knew how to compromise on economic issues in the West without touching the substance of the film. The knowledge of these mechanisms helped me a lot after the fall of the Wall to find my way in the production conditions of the West German scene.“ (Wenn der Wind sich dreht, 2001) (cl)