Dean Reed - The Red Elvis/Der Rote Elvis
Philadelphia Film Festival
Friday, April 4, 7:15 PM, The Bridge: Cinema DeLux
The Red Elvis
The amazing, complex life of American singer Dean Reed, who immigrated to East Germany and reignited his career as a communist film star and prophesying socialist singer, is uncovered in this fascinating documentary.
For those who may not be familiar with the name and unusual career path taken by singer/activist
Dean Reed (1938-1986), this eye-opening documentary takes on an almost Zelig-like quality
as we follow him through the tumultuous Cold War-era 1960s and into the mid-'80s.
Tall, handsome and easy-going, Reed's Elvis-influenced music career was on the rise - not
to superstardom, but the singer was definitely successful in popular folk/rock music.
That is, until his political and social consciousnesses were awakened, and the now
Marxist Reed emigrated from the States - first to Argentina, then to Italy and, after
a stint in Soviet Russia, to communist East Germany. From this base, Reed traveled to
post-Allende Chile, Castro's Cuba and throughout the Eastern bloc, singing rousing political
songs and speaking eloquently (he was fluent in Spanish and German) on behalf of the
socialist cause. Though many Americans considered him a traitor, Reed was never anti-American,
always paid his income taxes and considered himself a preacher for peace and human rights.
He was an impassioned believer and preacher of socialism despite living quite extravagantly
in his adopted country. During these years he became a Communist film star (20 films,
mainly westerns) and traveled extensively in concert tours. With a rich archive of interviews
and performances, director Leopold Grün re-discovers this amazingly complex individual
and sheds light on the politically charged time which propelled one man to change his life.