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  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is always fascinating to obtain insight into the lives of citizens in alternative social systems. The TV series Einzug ins Paradies depicts in six episodes of one hour each the experiences of five families in the German Democratic Republic (East-Germany). These days, due to lack of time I rarely watch TV-series, but Einzug ins Paradies brought back memories of oldies like Peyton Place or Coronation Street. The difference is that the narrative unfolds in 1984 and on the eleventh floor of an apartment building. To begin with I should mention that the series was banned by the censorship until 1987 (the onset of Perestroika), for vague reasons. Apparently it was thought that the series would discredit the national building program and in addition one of the players had defected to the west. Nevertheless Einzug ins Paradies is essentially nonpolitical. Six hours of television is a long stretch, but I enjoyed the performance. As said, the five families dwell on the same floor, and their lives connect through the adjacent balconies. Since this connection is loose, you watch five different courses of life. The events are trivial and universal: relational and marriage problems, illness, professional dissatisfaction, derailments of the children, loneliness of the elderly. In fact, the series could easily have been a Dutch or French produce. But of course we are attracted mainly by the unconventional backcloth of the Bolshevist state. A striking feature is the innocence of the people: there is no mutual distrust or antagonism. The only competition takes place in the area of work. Since workers can not be laid off, their main fear is the slight during promotions. And here the frustrations and pains are indeed agonizing. The hierarchy of the bureaucracy probably makes the threat of slighting even more distressing. I was struck most by the serious abuse of alcohol in three of the families. I was not aware that drunkenness was an endemic in the GDR, but if the stories reflect the actual situation, then the society was clearly unsound. The prosperity in the city has some typical Bolshevist characteristics, like the relative lack of cars and the nearly universal lack of private telephones (even in 1984!). This is especially significant, since the recordings were made in Berlin, the capital of the GRD. Striking is also the acceptance of child nudity: within the first ten minutes of the first episode we see two incidents of very young naked girls. However this may have been a publicity stunt, for the following episodes are much more modest. In conclusion, film buffers will probably appreciate this somewhat exceptional produce. In addition, I can imagine that former conscripts from the American army, who have been stationed in West-Germany, may be interested in a peek to the daily lives of their enemy of the time.