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Rockin' the Wall

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School Bd/College/University DVD: $225


Grade Level: JrH-Adult
Producer: Video Project
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 83 mins
Country of Origin: United States
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2010
Available in French: No

Rockin’ the Wall is both an engaging history lesson about the Berlin Wall and an entertaining exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change and liberation.

When the Berlin Wall went up in 1960, it became the worldwide symbol of communist oppression. While the Wall kept people in, it could not keep Western influences like rock music out. Through Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, rock music penetrated the Iron Curtain with messages of freedom and rebellion. 

Rockin’ the Wall presents the history of the Berlin Wall through the experiences of well-know rock musicians and those who lived behind the wall. Among the rock musicians featured are Robby Krieger (The Doors), Mark Stein and Vinny Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot), David Paich (Toto), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), and the group Mother’s Finest who played in East Berlin just weeks before the Wall fell.

People who lived behind the Iron Curtain in several countries describe what their lives were like and how rock music provided them an important lifeline and inspiration -- giving them hope and exposing the short-comings of the communist system.

The film includes historical footage of the famous speeches at the Berlin Wall by Presidents Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy, as well as interviews with former government officials and with European rocker Leslie Mandoki who recalls being visited by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss the power of music. 

Features original music written for the film, as well as live music from several of the groups in the film.

Rockin’ the Wall is ideal for classes in History, Political Science, Popular Culture, and Music.

"Recommended. Rockin' the Wall plays as part history documentary, part "rockumentary." It explores the history of the Cold War, particularly the impact of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain; tracing this history in parallel with significant developments in Western rock and roll music. The artists reflect on rock and roll's unique position as a force for social change...and relate the way in which rock and roll provided a common language of subversion and solidarity for those trapped behind the Wall. The personal stories and remembrances of the musicians provide insights into the tragedy, despair, the paradoxes, and ultimately, the humanity of this time in history."
Educational Media Reviews Online 

"(A) well-developed program on rock music's role in literally opening the doors to the East. Highlights are the footage of the Sovietization of Eastern Europe and the Cold War period in the U.S., the evolution of rock 'n roll music and how it was seen as a corrosive element by the Communists, and the political and social movements which led to the opening of the former Russian-dominated countries. Libraries will want to consider this homage to the power of Elvis, the Beatles, and blue jeans for history, sociology, and music courses."
- School Library Journal

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