Trail of the Stones (movie)

Article

January 27, 2022

Trace of the Stones is a contemporary film from 1966 produced by the DEFA Studio for Feature Films, Artistic Working Group (KAG) "Heinrich Greif". The director was Frank Beyer, who also wrote the screenplay with Karl Georg Egel. It is based on the novel of the same name by Erik Neutsch. The film premiered in Potsdam on the eve of the 8th GDR Workers' Festival and then ran in a number of cinemas before it was withdrawn from the program due to "anti-socialist tendencies". It is one of the banned films of the GDR. The film was not allowed to be shown again in the GDR until October 1989, and a little later it was shown at the 1990 Berlinale in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Content

The carpenter and brigade leader (foreman) Hannes Balla works on the GDR construction site in Schkona. Balla and his people don't think much of the bureaucratic rules of the planned economy, but they are still among the most productive work brigades in construction. If necessary, they use force to obtain missing material. Nevertheless, their methods are initially tolerated by the site management due to their work performance. One day, when the idealistic SED party secretary Werner Horrath took up his duties at the construction site, he initially felt his authority was being undermined, but he nevertheless succeeded in winning over Balla, whom he values ​​as a first-class worker, to his idea of ​​higher productivity in order to improve working conditions to improve. The two men soon share a mixture of mutual respect, but also a certain rivalry over the love of engineer Kati Klee, who is also new to the construction site. Both men fall in love with Kati, but Horrath finally manages to win Kati's heart. He starts a secret love affair because he is already married, doesn't want to jeopardize his party post and also can't separate from his family. Later Kati becomes pregnant. Out of party loyalty, however, she does not reveal her father's name and thus protects Horrath, who in turn becomes more and more estranged from Kati and gets into a crisis in which he has to decide between fulfilling his duty and his love for Kati. This creates unrest on the construction site as long as paternity has not been clarified. It was only when Kati finally wanted to break away from him that he publicly acknowledged her and thereby lost all party posts. His wife files for divorce, so Horrath has to work as a laborer in Hannes Balla's brigade. Balla is ultimately the person who defends him in a disqualification process.

Origin story

Novel template

The film is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Erik Neutsch, which was published in 1964 and won the GDR National Prize in the same year. The DEFA studio for feature films offered film director Frank Beyer, who was a permanent member of the DEFA staff at the time, but was not entirely convinced of the project at first, to film the novel. As he later said, Beyer needed some time to recognize the quality of the extensive material. Despite the novel, which was praised by the SED, and a clearly socialist position, the novel depicts a realistic depiction of everyday life in the GDR. Although Neutsch agreed to a film adaptation, he was not interested in later working on the film adaptation, so Beyer conceived a screenplay for a 180-minute film together with Karl-Georg Egel. In another version, the author duo later shortened the script to just under two hours and submitted it to the cultural department of the Central Committee of the SED for assessment, knowing full well that the project was on the edge of what is permissible.

Pre-production and production

Film director Beyer initially wanted the three main roles with Manfred Krug, Armin Mueller-Sta

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