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

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James Cleverley


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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