The Old Song
Feature Film
Germany, 1992
35 mm
82 min
Optical Sound


Buch und Regie
Ula Stöckl
Ulrike Herdin
Rali Raltschev, Stefan Ivanov, Alexander Zlatev, Jens Kunkel
2. Kamera
Julia Kunert,
Lily Grote

Alexander Kraut
Alexander Kraut (Das Lied der Deutschen und Adagio aus Konzert Nr. 4 von N. Paganini)
Hartmut Krenz
Volkmar Umlauft, Christiane Zwick, Christo Bakalski
Detlev Skowronek
Jeanne Richter
Marlies Lilienthal, Silke Führing
Andrea Kraft
Erhard Kannegiesser, Steffen Kober
Dirk Gottlebe, Gerald Stiller
Hartmut Haase, Norbert Nestler
Ingo Kock/ DEFA Studio Potsdam-Babelsberg
Klaus Hornemann/ DEFA Studio Potsdam-Babelsberg
Monika Schindler, Doris Möhring
Clara Burckner
Basis-Film Verleih GmbH in Koproduktion mit: Ula Stöckl Filmproduktion und Filminitiative Dresden e.V. gefördert von: Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Baden-Württemberg, Kulturelle Filmförderung Hamburg, Hessi-sches Filmbüro, Berliner Filmförderung


Lotte Meyer
Alfred Lübke
Rolf Dietrich
Dora Traudisch
Olaf Hörbe
Jeanne Richter
Michael Böhme
Peter Meining
Frau Schiller
Kristina Busch
Herr Schiller
Günter Kurze
Matthias Pfitzner
Andrej Krabbe
Daniel Oswald
Frank Keon
Sofie als Kind
Sabine Hörbe
Katharina jung
Simone Peikert
Rudolf jung
Volkmar Umlauft
Karl als Kind
Markus Peikert
und als Gast
Grischa Huber

Festival Participation

22. Internationales Forum des Jungen Films, Berlin 1992
14. Festival International des Films des Femmes,
Paris/Créteil 1992
21. Festival International de Cinema,
Figueira Da Foz 1992
Filmfestival de Carthage, Tunis 1992
23. Lubuser Filmsommer, Lagó/Polen 1993
4. Film-Kunst-Fest, Schwerin 1994
3. „Donne altrove” rassegna cinematografica, Milano 1994
14. Edizione Incontri di Cinema e Donne Testa o Croce - Laboratorio Immagine Donna, Firenze 1994
Werkschau Babylon, Berlin, 1995
1. International Women Film Festival, London 1996


Who is Ilse? Her laughter and her songs haunt the film. Did her sister Katharina really denounce her? Did Alf really sacrifice his career for the sake of his love for her? Is Ilse still alive or does she only still exist as a symbol of joie de vivre and strength in the dreams of these people, whose stories are told in this film?

Ilse is the woman who never fit in. This is the exact opposite of her hardworking sister Katharina, who brought up her brother, as well as her son and grandson, and who always put her own life and needs to one side and gave up everything for the family. Didn't Katharina deserve finally, in December 1990, to get her reward. Despite the lie, which she has been living, and which she only now admits to her family? Finally, on the occasion of her 70th birthday she comes together with her childhood sweetheart Alf, who only ever wanted her sister Ilse. In a similar way Germany is now also reunited. Forty years ago she fled from her native Dresden to Hamburg. Now she wants to return. Katharine feels no sense of injustice, as she calls for the return of "her" house on the river Elbe. Was it ever really hers? After all she bought it for a "song" from a Jewish family in Nazi-ruled Germany.

Are the grandchildren managing any better? What happens when the grandchildren of Alf and Katharina meet, having grown up two very different Germanys? Sofia, the student from Cologne, speaks very differently to Stefan, the music student from Dresden, or Johanna, the young Photographer from East Berlin. Rudolf, Katharina's brother, was forced to give up his job as teacher, in order to look after Sofia's father, who, after the car accident, which killed Sofia's mother, is confined to a wheelchair. A family history in reunified Germany? "The dreams, which once swelled the proud breast, have faded away."

Alf, who made his career as a doctor in the GDR, and was once full of idealism and beliefs of fair socialism, sees now, at the end of his life, everything has fallen apart. Like Katharina he has always lived carefully. Now he is forced to ask himself questions, which he is not able to answer.

The Film

Memories are questioned. Nothing is, as it seems. Neither what was imagined nor what actually happened. This film is about aspirations. About women who were hardworking and who tried to fit in. About our mothers, who we have to thank for surviving the war and the post-war reconstruction, and who we love and respect for their hard work. At the same time we have to ask ourselves why we have been unable to learn how to break away from them. Is life like the fairy tale of Lucky Hans, who lost his lump of gold when he swapped the life he had, for what he thought was a better one? This film is about the importance of questioning the past, with all its memories, lies and dreams, so that we are able to ask the right questions about the present.
to top


01: A film in the Forum (of the Berlin International Film Festival), which touches all of us...nothing, is as it seems, and no one fits the image they try to project. The hard-workers are the basis for every sort of system, which demands people fit in: a film to spark off arguments.
Ponkie, Abendzeitung München, 24.02.1992
to top

02: This film is an artistic feat....through its unusual point of view and the impressive interpretation of "the Song of the Germans".
Stefan Seifert, Jenaer Landzeitung, 28.04.1993
to top

03: Many viewers find Ula Stöckl's films difficult and inaccessible. For me they have an individual and unique attraction. Their stories play out on various different levels simultaneously. They compliment each other and give the viewer room to make associations on various different levels. Despite the amount of material and information in the film and its poetic richness, it is also calm and often full of warm-hearted humor.
Iris Gusner, Film und Fernsehen, 3/1992
to top

04: Yet it doesn't just stick to looking at the past. Out of the confrontation Stöckl develops a meticulous view of the future together.
nup, Konstanzer Zeitung, 17.10.1992
to top

05: Stöckl sends the German-German extended family softly, but without mercy, down a dead-end. Far away, on the dark banks of the Elbe, Karl stands up suddenly from the wheelchair and walks away on his own, unnoticed by his "fathers" Rudolf and Alf. An illusion? Or perhaps he is the only one who has understood everything and doesn't want any more to play a part in this "meat feast".
Karen Niehoff, Tagesspiegel Berlin, 26.02.1992
to top

06: Director Ula Stöckl creates in this film a fragile mix of memory and daily reality ... the slow camera shots through Dresden lend the film calmness and peacefulness. In this way the film seems like a documentary, or a reportage, whose strands of plot are taken up at various intervals. This makes the film, on the one hand, heavy and intense, on the other rather cerebral.
A.S. Main-Post, 03.07.1992
to top

07: To understand means to forgive? Not necessarily according to Ula Stöckl. Yet at the same time she doesn't measure the characters and their actions by her own standards of justice. It is this, which differentiates her, favorably, from other more dogmatic works.
Ulrich von Thüna, epd Film 10/1992
to top

08: Stöckl's images, which are sometimes highly refined but never overly "designed", hit the brain dead-on. Without any effort on behalf of the viewer, the film remains a series of fragmented pictures and the carefully balanced characters are rendered dumb.
Thomas Vogel, Schwäbische Zeitung, 14.10.1992
to top

09: We have never seen the like in a film before: Even if you have already been there, when have you ever seen Dresden in this way? The rich mood of the film shows the Dresden of today, and yet also, thanks to how the camera depicts the city, the Dresden of the past, and how it has been for the past hundred years. And if the mood ever threatens to dip, with the various interpretations of the song of Germany, it is never quite lost. The atmosphere and the imagination of the people here are both unforgettably portrayed.
o.s., Volksblatt Würzburg, 03.07.1992
to top

10: This "Old Song" is not simply a story of East hitting against West (and vice versa) but rather, for Ula Stöckl, a new interpretation of the German song "justice and freedom, and then unity."
Heinz Voigt, Thüringische Landeszeitung (TLZ), 08.05.1993
to top

Is life like the fairy tale of Lucky Hans, who lost his lump of gold when he swapped the life he had, for what he thought was a better one?

This film is about the importance of questioning the past, with all its memories, lies and dreams, so that we are able to ask the right questions about the present.

Same Old Song Or
Different Tune?

An analysis of Ula Stöckl's film Das alte Lied/The Old Song by Robert C. Reimer, University of North Carolina

... 90 kb file