Concrete Legacies of the GDR: Elke Hauck’s "Der Preis" (2011).

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James Cleverley

Abstract

Elke Hauck’s 2011 film Der Preis resonates with recent enquiries into the relationship between time and modernity, which have questioned whether “time is out of joint” (Aleida Assmann; Mark Fisher). Hauck, who has been associated with a second generation of ‘Berlin School’ filmmakers, directs an atmospheric film that produces the feelings of both the late 1980s GDR and the post-unification present. Der Preis takes perhaps East Germany’s most ‘concrete’ legacies, its Plattenbauten – the product of the state’s flagship housing program – as the foundation of its non-linear narrative, telling a story of homecoming, and of re-encountering ghosts. The architecture is a site of memory, its terrains conjure the spectral ever-presence of the GDR, evoking Jacques Derrida’s hauntology. Through temporally and spatially conscious analysis of both image and sound, I argue that the sensations of ‘not yet’ and ‘no longer’ are found in the unfulfilled future promises of not only the socialist past, but also the post-unification present.

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