Films are being produced and deceased. Sometimes brands stop to exist, that have produced these films. And sometimes even countries vanish in which films have been produced. In Germany we know something about it. So there I a certain melancholy surrounding ORWO-films of VEB Filmfabrik Wolfen of the faded late GDR. They had the monopoly on film-production in East Germany. There was no market, but still the people had to put something in their cameras. But basically it came down for the main market to have one or two colour print films, one or two black wand white print and one or two Slide films. I am sure as photographers you had your way to get to other material but for the ordinary consumer choice wasn’t really king.
Before the second world the film factory was part of the AGFA universe. But with the end of the world a little economic thriller took place. First the Americans swept the factory and took many of the patents and archives to bring to their homeland. Later Kodak used one of the emulsions of AGFA, which was found there. After the seperation of East and West the soviets came around the corner, took the remaining machines, knowledge, engineers and sent them to Russia to reassemble it there. But that wasn’t too successful. And finally in 1953 the first own filmproduction of the GDR started. Bitterfeld then turned out to be the Shenzhen City of East Germany with a lot of chemical productions and always with polution and pumping chimneys. ORWO certainly was next to BASF one of the big waste-producers of all of Germany. So you certainly ought not to lick that little film like a sweet candy. By the way, there is a fine article on Wikipedia, if you want to know about the history of ORWO.
I got hold on to a load of the colour print film ORWO Color QRS 100. The expiration date is 1996, therefore I think the production must have been in the beginning of the nineties. I reckon it will be the first and last production of ORWO in the reunified Germany. But it is most likely, that it is just a repackaging of East German films. In 1994 the Factory had to close, so this load of film survived it’s own company.
There is a predecessor of ORWO now called Orwonet AG, still based in Bitterfeld of East Germany. And it is quite a success, they are dealing with photofinishing and own some IT-Photo-Companies. Funny enough the sparkle of a dead brand of a dead country is still shining today.
This is a good bridge to my experience with this film: As far as I know are the emulsion of ORWO not too stable, compared to other brands. It was not to be expected, that the colours of this film turn out accurate 15 years above the expiration date. It was no surprise that it’s colours were crazy. It is changing from blue to purple and relatively grainy. The picture tends to be a bit darker also. And to put it with Mandis words: “Just imagine there is this guy with a bucket full of purple colour. And this guy is pouring it all over your picture!”
I am very happy. Aside to the lomography redscale I have a real purplescale film!