Produced by the state-owned East German DEFA studios, Unser kurzes Leben (Our Short Life) is a film adaptation of the unfinished autobiographical novel Franziska Linkerhand by Brigitte Reimann, which appeared in 1974 after the author’s death. The young, ambitious architect Franziska (Simone Frost) moves to a small city with great enthusiasm as she is eager to break away from her former professor and leave behind her failed marriage. She is assigned to the local state-run architectural agency where she is confronted with colleagues that have long since capitulated to the practical necessities of the socialist status quo. Franziska, however, would like to rethink the strict separation of residential, work and leisure spaces – as embodied in a new concrete construction being built on the edge of the city – and initiates a competition for the reconstruction of the old city centre. In the dump truck driver Trojanovicz (Gottfried Richter) she finds new love, but the relationship founders due to his conformist attitude. The collaboration with her new supervisor (Hermann Beyer), on the other hand, takes a positive turn after some initial difficulties. Following her probationary year Franziska decides to stay in the provincial city. Lothar Warneke’s film offers an impressively realistic view of the interior life of East Germany in the early 1980s.
Lothar Warneke, DDR 1981, 113 min
Introduction: Florian Wüst