Once upon a time there was a little girl named Rotkaeppchen. She lived with her father and mother at the edge of a village, and often visited her grandmother on the other side of the woods. Her rabbit friend, Haeschen, lives with Grandmother and was sent one day to fetch medicine and milk from Rotaeppchen and her mother. Although her mother was reluctant to allow her to visit Grandmother alone, Rotkaeppchen convinces her that she will be safe with Haeschen. Together they set out through the woods. Unfortunately, there were many distractions in the woods: mushrooms to pick and Rotkaeppchen's other playmate, the bear. There are also the dangerous fox and wolf, who plotted to capture Rotkaeppchen and eat her. Haeschen did his best to keep them safe, but he could not prevent the wolf from eating Grandmother . . . and also Rotkaeppchen! Who will save them? The DEFA version of Rotkaeppchen differs from the Grimms' version in some minor areas: the mother plays a greater role in the film; DEFA has the father save the day, rather than the huntsman; the wolf does not die at the end, though he is carried away by the family; the second encounter with the wolf at the end of the original tale is left out; and a few animal characters are added (Haeschen, Baer, and das Eichhoernchen). All the animals (other than the Eichhoernchen) are played by people in animal costumes, and Jochen Bley as Haeschen was the big hit with critics and viewers alike. Both warmly and critically received by the press upon its release, Rotkaeppchen followed closely on the heels of the very successful Schneewittchen; hence, in some cases, the disappointment. Many reviews cited Goetz Friedrich's background in theater (both in positive and negative interpretations) to explain the spare, two-dimensional feel of the set. Yet nearly all commented positively on the color and interesting characters, and the Progress press materials summed up the morals for the viewers to learn: "Do what you are told, but act independently when it is necessary; never leave the path, especially the path that your friends have marked with love and experience; be brave, fight against evil, help your friends." Since its release, Rotkaeppchen has become one of the most popular DEFA fairy tale films.