Fräulein Schmetterling

7 Jun 2021
Fräulein Schmetterling

Banned and lost DEFA film viewable for the first time after 55 years

The film Fräulein Schmetterling was originally shot from 30 August to 8 December 1965..

After the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee of the SED in December 1965, the existing material was checked for political-ideological errors and the final production was banned. Uncut negatives and positives were stored in the State Film Archive of the GDR. Unlike other banned DEFA films, the film was not shown during the reunification period. The edited version produced by the director and seen at the time has been considered lost since 1990. A first attempt at reconstruction was made between 2002 and 2004. A review of the film material revealed that the footage shot in 1965 was almost complete, but a large part of the sound was missing. So those involved in the reconstruction decided to make the film in the form of a documentary of the material. This version from 2005 was not a complete film, but a montage of the surviving shots according to the original script.

In 2019/20, the DEFA Foundation once again dedicated itself to the task of reconstruction. The aim of the digital editing was to complete a cinematically sophisticated work from the collection of material, which reflects the intention of the director Kurt Barthel. The dramaturgy was reconstructed along the lines of the original screenplay and the existing musical motifs, and a new edited version was created. With the help of a complex editing process, the original voices of the most important actors were preserved. Missing dialogue and the passages performed by Melania Jakubisková in Slovak were re-dubbed. This was followed by the creation of a new sound design. Based on the new sound track, the image and sound were put in sync and then the image was colour corrected and retouched in 2K. The new version represents a final mounted film that can be screened as a high-resolution digital copy.