Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy 85th Birthday Walter Beck

Walter Beck was born on September 19, 1929 in Mannheim, Baden Württemberg, Germany. His family moved to Berlin in 1937 and after graduating from school which he attended from 1948 to 1951 studying directing at DEFA Studio and then worked as an assistant director in the field of synchronous and documentary. He was an assistant director 1951-52 at the DEFA Studio for Feature Films, where he assisted director Otto Meyer on “Schatten über den Inseln and Richard Nicolas on “Anna Susanna”. From 1952 to 1954 he moved to the DEFA Studio for newsreels and documentaries and assisted Herbert Ballmann on “Blaue Wimpel im Sommerwind”. His first production came in 1953 with the documentary “Herren der Felder”, then in 1954 he switched to DEFA feature films, where he assisted such well-known directors as Hans Müller, Slatan Dudow, Artur Pohl, Richard Groschopp, Kurt Jung-Alsen and Martin Hellberg.
1958 Beck was a staff film director at the DEFA film studio in Potsdam-Babelsberg. His feature film debut was “Claudia” in 1959, and the sequel film “Der neue Fimmel” (1959/1960) he produced mainly for a younger audience, and soon became a popular children's film-director for DEFA. Later, Beck staged then some children’s films such as 1965’s “Grimms König Drosselbart” with Manfred Krug in the lead role, “Sleeping Beauty” (1971), “Der Prinz hinter den sieben Meeren” (1982), “Der Bärenhäuter” (1986) and the “Frog Prince” (1988). In addition, Beck was, next to Gunter Friedrich, one of the key representatives of the political children's film in the GDR, the described historical events and class struggle from the perspective of children. These films were set in the time of the Peasants' War, the Mexican Revolution, the October Revolution, the Weimar Republic and the German fascism belong “Als Martin 14” (1964), “Käuzchenkuhle” (1968), “The Red Horseman” (1970) and “Des Henkers Bruder” (1979) and the Euro-western “Trini” (aka “Death for Zapata”) (1976) from a children's book by Ludwig Renn. In 1989/1990 he made his last film, “Der Streit um des Esels Schatten”, based on the novel The Abderites of Christoph Martin Wieland.
In addition to film work, Beck also worked as a theater director at theaters in Schwerin, Zwickau and Erfurt, but also as a reciter and from 1984 to 1989 as president of the National Children's and Youth Film Festival "Golden Sparrow" in Gera.
Today we celebrate Walter Beck’s 85th birthday.

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