Rockin’ the Wall is both an engaging history lesson about the
Berlin Wall and life behind the Iron Curtain, and an entertaining
exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change and
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-known 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
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.
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, Government, Popular Culture, and Music.
Reviews and Festivals"A fabulous teaching tool. I teach government, economics and world history, and Rockin' the Wall opens a window on governmental oppression that is otherwise hard for students to perceive. But they can easily imagine being forbidden to listen to or create the music that they love. It brings the romantic theoretical concept of freedom out of the dusty textbook into something they can readily visualize. I have shared it with other teachers, and now our dilemma is "Who gets to use it?" -- the history class, the government class, (or) the music class. Even if a teacher cannot fit in the entire film, carefully selected clips can be very valuable."
– P. Gail Haase, M. Ed., High School Teacher, Chandler, AZ
"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
“Well-produced…Rockin’ the Wall gives viewers an intimate look into life in East Berlin…. Commentators in the film range from bow tie-wearing historians to shaggy-haired rock musicians, with the most interesting tidbits coming from individuals who had lived under Soviet rule in East Berlin (some of whom escaped before the wall fell). The film conveys a palpable feeling of the quiet rebellion simmering against a regime so petty as to restrict women from putting their hair in ponytails.”