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Red Elvis, The (Rote Elvis, Der)

Red Elvis, The
Dan Reed (photos courtesy of Totho cmp)

On the 17th of June 1986 a man is dragged out of a lake in East Berlin. He turns out to be the US American singer and actor Dean Reed, a highly mysterious legend of global pop culture during Cold War times.

After leaving his hometown in Colorado at a young age in order to take acting classes in Hollywood, Reed soon is produced by Capitol Records and successfully launched in South America. In Chile he experiences his political initiation and transforms to a contradictive freedom fighter after the Pinochet Coup in 1973. He devotes himself to the promotion of Socialism. His beliefs make him travel to support Arafat – this time with a Kalashnikov in addition to his guitar. Always trying to use his artistic talents to influence global politics, he gains the aura of a US American activist. Rockstar, Cowboy, Socialist – Reed becomes the ultimate superstar of the Eastern Bloc. Moreover, he wants to become Senator of Colorado and calls Reagan a “state terrorist”. This directs his life to a point of no return.

Dean Reed embodies qualities of mutual exclusiveness, thereby likewise irritating devotees and enemies with his manifold persona. He acts in 18 movies, records 13 albums and performs in more than 32 countries. Reed ends up being a distraught rebel. His desire for peace and justice collides with his yearning for love and affection. He remains an icon and his ideals remind us of those policies that presently regain a strong contemporary quality.


Leopold Gruen was born in 1968 in Dresden. He studied Media Pedagogy and worked as a teacher from 1990-1996, followed by studies in Media Consultancy and Sociology from 1998-2001. Since 2001, he has been working as a freelance documentary director and media consultant and began working on The Red Elvis (Der Rote Elvis) in 2002.
Genre History, Music, Biopic
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2007
Director Leopold Gruen
Screenplay Leopold Gruen
Cinematography Thomas Janze
Dirk Uhlig
Monomango
Cast Isabel Allende Bussi, Celino Bleiweiss, Peter Boyles, Egon Krenz, Maren Zeidler, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Wiebke Reed, Guenter Reisch
Producer Thomas Janze
Production Company Totho cmp/Berlin
Length 90 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German/English/Spanish
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby SR
Festivals Berlin 2007 (Panorama), Torino 2007, Berlin & Beyond San Francisco 2007, Philadephia 2008
With backing from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, DEFA Foundation, SONY Deutschland
German Distributor Neue Visionen Filmverleih

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