THE HIDING PLACE

Das Versteck

 (Frank Beyer, East Germany, 1977) 104 minutes

THE HIDING PLACE

Director: Frank Beyer
Screenplay: Jurek Becker
Photography: Jurgen Brauer
Editor: Rita Hiller
Music: Gunther Fischer
Jutta Hoffmann (Wanda)
Manfred Krug (Max)
Dieter Mann (Bibow)
Alfred Muller (Ludorf)
Marita Bohme (Gertrud)
Martin Trettau (police officer)

Reviews and notes

The Story:
After fourteen years of marriage, Max and Wanda Brink have got divorced. A year later Max is convinced that the divorce was a mistake, and he now tries to get back together again. Thus, one day the bell rings, and someone presuming to be a policeman is standing at the door; he claims to be searching for Max, and a bit later he asks Wanda whether he might hide out at her place for a while. The trick works, and Max has one week's time.

He wants to show Wanda how different he has become and acts the perfect househusband, while his jealous rival tries to interfere. The divorced couple recall the past, the good times and the bad times, and the times when Max neglected his wife - because of his architect's job, or simply to play skat in the evening with his friends.

Even before the end of the week, Wanda finds out the truth about the hiding game contrived by her ex-husband. Enraged but also moved, in the end she gives him another chance...


About the film:
Under different circumstances this story could also have developed into a bitter drama of a married couple. The fact that it became more suitable for a comedy had something to do with the situation of women in the GDR. The high proportion of working women led to their greater integration into society, and marriage served less as a institution providing economic security. "Accordingly, the aspect of subjugation has largely not been dealt with", explained Frank Beyer at that time. "But as we all know, every advance also has its price, which is the failure of this relationship here as well as the large number of divorces."

When Frank Beyer takes up the subject of "work", also here he is not in agreement with the concepts of morality that the GDR held at the time. In the film, "work" is not the measure of all things, but rather it promotes alienation among people, and for Max it becomes a "hole" where he can take refuge from his other problems, something that Wanda reproaches him for.

The balance of the director's sympathies for his characters has unquestionably contributed to the success of this comedy. The conflict between Max and Wanda certainly amounts to much more than simply the question of which of the two is in the right at a particular time and which one is in the wrong. The fact that the man's efforts to reunite the two do not lead to success but rather are initially a failure is perhaps regrettable; however, it is not exactly a catastrophe.
- Hans-Gunther Pflaum, Frank Beyer Retrospective, Goethe Institut, 1996.

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