East Germany, 1950: two young people are arrested after the police raid a barroom brawl. Instead of a prison sentence they are forced to work in a uranium mine in Wismut. As chaotic as a wild west gold rush town, their new "home" is full of characters with unusual destinies - old anarchists working next to former SS members working next to Russian officers. Emotions collide, as well as fists. Banned at Soviet insistence, this socialist story impresses even today with its political complexity, variety of characters, and realistic portrait of daily work in a forbidden zone of the industrial landscape. 116 MIN b&w 1958/72 - b&w German English subtitles. Bonus Extras: Introductory Essay, Short Film Portrait: Wismut Today, The Eyewitness: Three Short Films about Director Konrad Wolf, The Eyewitness: Fourteen Short, Films about various cast members, Photo Gallery, and Biographies & Filmographies.
The title of this startlingly frank story about the turbulent early years of East German communism refers not to the acquiring of tans but rather uranium miners looking for (and being exposed to) high levels of radiation within underground tunnels. Banned by the Soviet Union, the 1972 Sun Seekers
was directed by German director Konrad Wolf with a careful eye toward 1950 atmosphere, detail, and the extraordinary social complexity of a newly designated nation carved from a vanquished Nazi regime, then made over as a socialist experiment. Essentially run by forced labor--party bosses draft minor scofflaws into service as a step short of prison--the mines are an uneasy hive of former SS men, anarchists, optimistic new socialists, and Russian soldiers keeping a wary eye on everything. Resentments are a constant. Into this difficult situation enter a handful of characters, including young Lotte (Ulrike Germer), desired by three very different men, and middle-aged sweethearts Jupp (Erwin Geschonneck) and Emmi (Manja Behrens), circus acrobats who had been separated during the war. Shot in crisp black and white, the film is an unusual hybrid of level-headed neo-realism and bursts of expressionistic fantasia. --Tom Keogh