“In a Land that No Longer Exists,” written and directed by debutant Aelrun Goette, opens with the sequence where, in the early summer of East Berlin, young eighteen-year-old Suzie (played by Marlene Burow) dreams of attending college and becoming a writer and is found by the Stasi in possession of George Orwell’s “1984,” which is illegal. As punishment, she was expelled from high school and put in a metalworking factory to work. At the beginning of the film, it is said to be a biographical film based on the true events of Aelrun Goette during the late 80s, a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
‘In A Land That No Longer Exists’ Story
The film starts with the portrayal of the journey of Suzie and how she is on a path to finding herself. Her younger sister seems to be very interested in fashion, and very soon, Suzie also finds herself working in the fashion industry. On her way to the factory, Suzie was seated on the tram, and a photographer took a picture of her from the road; the next day, it got printed on the front cover of Sibylle, one of the biggest fashion magazines in the East, also called the Vogue of the East. The next day, she is asked to get down to the office, and there she is offered a job working as a model. However, she couldn’t take the job as a model as she was already working in the factory, and it was a Stasi-appointed job, and without proper paperwork, she wouldn’t be able to transfer out. Her father did not approve of her working as a model, and she worked extra shifts so that she could go to college, but both Suzie and her father knew that Suzie had little chance of attending college. In the course of the narrative of the film, it is shown how factory workers impact the fashion magazine Sibylle, and shooting inside the factory with other women helped Suzie gain a respectable place at the job. With the success of the magazine’s factory cover, Suzie gets selected for a prestigious fashion show, which is also important for the magazine. In the show, with the exciting turn of events, the showstopper gets changed at the end of the show, and a gay man becomes ‘the bride’ for the first time in East Germany, which would have been unimaginable otherwise. The gay man Rudi, who wore ‘the dress’ and worked at Sibylle as a designer, gets fired from his job as the Stasi arrests him because of his stunt. In the middle of all these events, Suzie finds herself falling in love with the photographer, Coyote, who would clicked her picture on the tram, and finds him to be anti-social as he is forbidden to study photography because he does not want to join the army. But in the course of events, Coyote fled Berlin, which he wasn’t supposed to do, and that landed Rudi (the gay bride of the fashion show) in the hands of the Stasi, where he got beaten up. Friends of Rudi held Suzie responsible for his arrest and brutalization as they thought she was the one who had given him up to the Stasi, but that was not the scenario. In the process of him getting beaten up, Rudi’s fashion show gets shut down by the Stasi, which inflicts a massive blow on him. Suzie understood the difficulties of being in fashion, as it requires the sacrifice of people because of who they are, and she decided to stay back at the factory and not join the magazine as a professional model.
What Happens In The End?
Suzie stayed back for her friend Rudi, and together they created a fashion show at the end as a celebration of who they are and who they aspire to be even in the tough times of the government’s autocratic rule. The director perceives the film as ‘an opportunity to broaden people’s perspective.’ Through the character of Rudi, it is shown how difficult homosexuality was in East Germany, but it remains mostly on the surface, and the celebratory fashion show fails to dig beyond the surface of the issue. In the end, every character that we see associated with Suzie comes to attend the fashion show and becomes a part of the celebration. In the show, Suzie casts her younger sister also, and she gets to be a part of the huge success of the show and fashion. In one sequence, we see one of her colleagues advising her to continue in fashion and not get back to working at the factory as it was a better option for her and because how everyone admires someone who is a part of Sibylle.
How Does It End For Suzie?
We, the audience, do not know what exactly happens to Suzie in the end, but she keeps working for the factory and remains friends with Rudi and others. The ending does not fit with the theme that the director was trying to project about empowerment and autocratic government in East Germany. Within three months of the events, the wall is torn down, but its significance on Suzie’s life seems not to be sufficient for the audience to understand.