The Curtain: Synopsis

The Curtain: Synopsis

The Curtain is a love story between an East German woman living behind the Iron Curtain and a Canadian man, set against the tumultuous backdrop of East Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.



In 1961, Berlin is caught in the middle of the growing tensions of the “cold war” between eastern and western Europe. One night, while the city sleeps, the East German government covertly constructs the Berlin Wall, dividing the most enchanting, vibrant city in Germany, preventing East Germans from crossing to the west.  In 1969, Hans Aberhardt and his wife Annette give birth to their baby, Angelika. One year later they try to escape from East Germany to give their daughter a better life in the west. During the escape, Annette is killed and Hans and Angelika are caught. Hans must bring up his daughter on his own.

It is 1989. The Berlin Wall has stood for 27 years. Angelika has grown to be a young, free-spirited woman. She often takes refuge in her father's barn, dreaming of freedom and worldly fame as a singer. Rolf, an East German police officer, is in love with Angelika, but she does not love him. She tells her father Hans that she has always dreamed of marrying someone who shares the same dreams of freedom as she does. Hans tells her that 'dreams are just dreams', but Angelika doesn't agree, telling Hans that dreams are what keep her happy in such a dismal country. She tells him that one day the winds of change will sweep through the country, like the windmill in their field, and one day she and Hans will travel to the west. But Hans reminds her that the windmill hasn't worked for years.

Josh is a traveller from Canada, visiting his Uncle Heinz in East Berlin. Josh sits with his guitar in the window of a West Berlin youth hostel looking at the Berlin Wall, wondering what adventures lay ahead of him the next day when he enters East Berlin. The following day he enters East Germany and meets his uncle, an eccentric, hustling mechanic.

Josh visits a local pub where he meets Angelika. Tired of the 'boring, East German music' the band is playing at the pub, Josh takes the stage and plays some rocking western music from his home country. Angelika is intrigued by Josh and they are attracted to each other. Rolf enters the pub with his policemen and is angry with what Josh, a 'westerner', is teaching the people of East Berlin. Rolf tells Josh to leave the pub, but as Angelika shakes Josh's hand good-bye, she slips him her address on a piece of paper.

Josh visits Angelika discreetly in her barn at her father's farm. They fall in love. A Stasi police informer spies on Angelika and Josh and tells Rolf of their meeting. Meanwhile, Angelika invites Josh to attend a peaceful candle-lit vigil for change at the Church of Gethsemane. News quickly spreads that the Communist government in China has just massacred a demonstration in Tiannanman Square, which makes the East German people fearful of planning a demonstration for fear of a similar crackdownl. Josh explains that demonstrations are happening in all Eastern Bloc countries, and this news is censored by the East German government but is seen by the rest of the world. With this knowledge, more young East Germans join the demonstration. Suddenly Rolf and his police break up the vigil and, maddened at Josh's involvement and at Josh's growing relationship with Angelika, revoke Josh's visa, forcing him to leave East Germany immediately. Angelika is saddened, and though their peaceful vigil was broken up, the people decide to hold a larger demonstration the following day. The Stasi, aware of the demonstration being planned, prepare for a violent crackdown should it proceed.


The people of East Germany prepare for the largest demonstration to date, as the police continue to plan their attack. Meanwhile, Josh says good-bye to Angelika. She returns to her farm to find her father has just had a heart attack working in his fields. Hans and Angelika have a tearful moment as he dies. Angelika resigns as she sees her dreams of freedom slip away with her father. Suddenly the old windmill in the field begins to spin in the wind. She takes that as a sign and leaves to join the demonstration.

Uncle Heinz listens to his illegal ham radio and hears the police planning a crackdown of the demonstration that night. He tells Josh who decides to defy the law and, instead of leaving East Germany, find Angelika to warn her and her friends. Josh sets off to find her before the police become violent. Josh finds Angelika in the crowd and warns her. Suddenly, Rolf finds Angelika and Josh together and holds Josh at gunpoint while arresting him, as he should have left the country by now. Meanwhile, the demonstrators grow stronger as the police prepare for an attack.

Suddenly the crowd is quieted as Rolf receives the order from Moscow to stand down. He reads an announcement to the crowd which is broadcast all over the world, stating that the people of East Germany are now free to travel to western countries. For the first time in 28 years, the Iron Curtain falls. The crowd cheers in a night of celebration, which opens the door to demonstrations for political change all around the world over the next two decades. As in East Germany, many of the demonstrations are led by the young people of the world who want to change their lives for the better.