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East, West and CentreReframing post-1989 European Cinema$
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Michael Gott and Todd Herzog

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694150

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694150.001.0001

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Towards an East–West Schizo-history

(p.253) Chapter 16 Barluschke
East, West and Centre

Kalani Michell

Edinburgh University Press

In Thomas Heise's documentary Barluschke (1997), memories of the Cold War era and the multiple migrations between East and West are conveyed through interviews with Barluschke and his individual family members, including his Jewish American wife and their two children. The film offers, in non-chronological fragments, a series of contrasting perspectives on Barluschke's secret life as an East German spy in the U.S., the family's abrupt migration to East Berlin, Barluschke's subsequent defection to West Germany, and his deep paranoia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 1995 trial against him and his contraction of HIV have driven Barluschke back to his first love, the camera, an instrument that uniquely combines ‘Kunst und Technik’ and which fascinated him as a child. He spends his time making countless home movies, which inadvertently capture him terrorizing his family members with the camera lens, providing a brief glimpse of the trauma inflicted upon them during his mental decline. By taking the repertoire of speeches, behaviors and perspectives presented in Barluschke as a point of departure, Michell considers how the ‘East’ is portrayed and thematized in this film, and also how it, as a discourse, is made reproducible and transmissible in the cinematic climate of post-Wall Germany.

Keywords:   Migration, Cold War, post-Wall Germany, documentary

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