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Henrik Bispinck

Geschlossene Gesellschaft

On November 29, 1978, viewers of GDR television had to wait a long time before the program announced for 9:30 p.m. was finally broadcast. First, an entertainment magazine was generously extended, then, surprisingly, a documentary about Nicaragua came on. Only then could the in-house production Geschlossene Gesellschaft be seen. The late start in the nighttime hours was no coincidence, because with director Frank Beyer and writer Klaus Poche behind the scenes, as well as Jutta Hoffmann and Armin Mueller-Stahl in front of the camera, four of those "petitioners" were involved in the production of the TV film who had protested against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann two years earlier. Mueller-Stahl, who for years was the most popular film actor in the GDR, was hardly offered any more roles after taking a stand for Biermann; Geschlossene Gesellschaft was his last GDR film. In 1980, he left the country. The film describes the crisis of a couple caught up in ossified rituals and unable to overcome the omnipresent stagnation - a fable that impressively reflected the state of GDR society. Because of his approval of the film's broadcast, Hans Bentzien, head of the main department of radio drama at the GDR's radio station, was relieved of his post. (cl)