I’m willing to admit that The Legend of Paul and Paula (Die Legende von Paul und Paula) came across my radar when I read that it was German chancellor Angela Merkel’s favorite movie. I was intrigued as to what kind of movie it might be. Needless to say, she doesn’t seem to be, to put to gently, the hippest or art-iest. It turns out the 1973 movie is a landmark East German film.
In East Berlin life isn’t easy. Paula’s a young, single mom who wants to have a good time and enjoy life but seems to fall in love with the wrong men. Paul’s a reliable young man who is going places in life as a doctor and with a government job. His success attracts a wife and they soon have a family. They also have no shortage of problems as she’s bored being a housewife and has certain expectations to be taken care of. When Paul and Paula meet while dancing with other people at a disco, the two instantly hit it off. It begins a passionate but difficult relationship.
Die Legende von Paul und Paula is a relic of 1973 so it’s cheesy and goofy at times. But it’s also strong in its realism with touches of the surreal — specifically a scene that sees the couple floating on Paula’s bed as a boat. The film is mostly a comedy of everyday life with dramatic twists here and there. It also offers a historical peek into East Berlin, the East Germany and life in general with a tragic ending.