Film still for "Lotte in Weimar"

From the Hand to the Puppet

A life for animated film. In conversation with Günter Rätz.

German Title: Von der Hand zur Puppe. Ein Leben für den Animationsfilm. Im Gespräch mit Günter Rätz.

Volker Petzold
328 Pages, 79 Images
Paperback, 14,8 x 21 cm
22,00 Euro (plus shipping)
ISBN: 978-3-86505-419-7
Obtainable at: Bertz+Fischer Verlag

The Book

From the Hand to the Puppet

(Volker Petzold, 2022)

Günter Rätz has left his mark on DEFA animated film like hardly anyone else. The animation studio in Dresden was his artistic home from its founding in 1955 until its decline after 1990. His oeuvre of almost 50 titles ranges from the fairy-tale-like early work TEDDY BRUMM (1958) to the satire LEBEN UND THATEN DES BERÜHMTEN RITTERS SCHNAPPHAHNSKI (1977) and the sensitive mixed animation ANGST (1982) to the feature-length animated puppet film DIE SPUR FÜHRT ZUM SILBERSEE (1989) from Karl May. Rätz's themes and aesthetic means of expression were manifold. His tireless curiosity and love of experimentation led to new materials, animation techniques, and sound experiences that especially delighted children.

The conversations provide insights into the life and career of Günter Ratz from his first experiences as a puppeteer in bombed-out post-war Berlin to his creative retirement. In the interviews he conducted with Günter Rätz between 2017 and 2021, film historian Volker Petzold confronts him with previously unknown documents from the management level. Many processes in the animation studio only become comprehensible in this way. Particularly revealing, also for the cultural-political conflicts of the GDR, are the interventions of higher authorities that led to the cancellation of productions, mutilation or banning of films such as MISTER TWISTER (1961) and DER MEISTER BOXT (1963).

Film still for "Die Spur führt zum Silbersee"

DIE SPUR FÜHRT ZUM SILBERSEE (Dir.: Günter Rätz, 1985-89) Photography: Rudolf Uebe

Film still for "Angst"

ANGST (Dir.: Günter Rätz, 1981/82) Photography: Hans Schöne

The Author

Volker Petzold was born in Halle (Saale). Between 1991 and 2000 he worked for the Festival of East European Film in Cottbus. Since 2001 he has been working as a program consultant for the International Children's and Youth Film Festival SCHLINGEL in Chemnitz. He has also been a board member of the German Institute for Animated Film Dresden (DIAF) since 2016. Petzold has been responsible for numerous publications on film and television history with a special focus on German animated film. He also curates film series and exhibitions and is involved in various projects related to animated film.

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