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Merry Christmas Deutschland oder Vorlesung zur Geschichtstheorie II

Still from the film "Merry Christmas Deutschland oder Vorlesung zur Geschichtstheorie II" by Raoul Peck. Aerial view of an intersection in an metropolitan area: cars, busses, pedestrians.
  • Director

    Raoul Peck

  • Federal Republic of Germany / 1985
    18 min. / 16 mm / Original version with English subtitles

  • Original language


In the early 1980s, Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s studied directing at Berlin’s German Film and Television Academy and made MERRY CHRISTMAS DEUTSCHLAND ODER VORLESUNG ZUR GESCHICHTSTHEORIE II as part of his studies, an atmospheric, lucid and politically astute essay in which the director’s signature approach to non-fiction that would flourish further in later works is already on display. Utilizing contradictions and counterpoints, these dense but unhurried 18 minutes pair rephotographed television clips of German parliamentary debates with footage of the city’s drab post-war architecture – at times inserting additional colour by way of solarization and other experimental flourishes – all set to Vivaldi, Miles Davis and nondescript audio snippets about shopping and a desire for world peace. In lieu of a first-person voiceover, Peck inserts ironic dictionary definition intertitles of words like “optimism” and “democracy” alongside selected citations, including Prussian General Clausewitz’s declaration that “Wars of educated people are less gruesome,” a guiding fallacy that Peck rallies against, and has continued to confront in the decades since. (Jesse Cumming)

Raoul Peck, born in 1953 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He trained as an industrial engineer and studied film. His international breakthrough came in 1991 with the documentary Lumumba: La mort du prophète. From 1996 to 1997, Peck served as Haiti’s Minister of Culture. He has screened films at Berlinale several times, most recently in 2017 I Am Not Your Negro and Le jeune Karl Marx.

Production company Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB) (Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany). Written and directed by Raoul Peck. Cinematography Raoul Peck. Editing Raoul Peck. Production manager Liselotte Wawiloff.

Films: 1985: Merry Christmas Deutschland oder Vorlesung zur Geschichtstheorie II. 1988: Haitian Corner. 1991: Lumumba: La mort du prophète / Lumumba – Death of a Prophet (documentary). 1993: L’homme sur les quais / The Man by the Shore. 1994: Desounen: Dialogue with Death (documentary), Haiti – Le silence des chiens / Haiti, Silence of the Dogs (documentary). 2000: Lumumba. 2001: Profit & Nothing But! Or Impolite Thoughts on the Class Struggle (documentary). 2005: Sometimes in April. 2009: Moloch Tropical (IFB Berlinale Special). 2012: Assistance mortelle / Fatal Assistance (documentary). 2014: Meurtre à Pacot / Murder in Pacot (IFB Panorama). 2016: I Am Not Your Negro (documentary). 2017: Le jeune Karl Marx / The Young Karl Marx.

Bonus Material


  • Still from the film "Merry Christmas Deutschland oder Vorlesung zur Geschichtstheorie II" by Raoul Peck. A blue tinted image of people riding an escalator.


    In “Neither Peace nor Freedom”, Max Annas reflects on Raoul Peck’s search for a West German “we” in his Berlin student film.

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