Issue 3/2006 - ISSN 1470-9570


Introduction: German Film since the Wende.

Joanne Leal, London (pages 1-6)

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Welcome to Tykwer-World: Tom Tykwer as Auteur.

David Clarke, Bath (pages 7-21)

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This article argues that German director Tom Tykwer represents a new type of auteur distinct from the model prevalent in the New German Cinema. His films foreground a personal style and rework a limited number of themes, but lack the critical dimension of the New German Cinema’s Autorenfilm. Instead, it can be argued that his status as auteur is more a performative gesture that seeks to establish a particular and recognizable brand in the domestic and international marketplace. The article shows how Tykwer’s films create a unique and consistently recognizable filmic world that is presented as entirely artificial and that bears only a loose connection to contemporary social reality. It is argued that this self-conscious artificiality constitutes both a key component of Tykwer’s personal style and a foregrounding of the creative presence of the director in his films.

The Sleeping Wound: Abjection and Dormancy in Tykwer’s Winterschläfer.

Dora Osborne, Cambridge (pages 22-39)

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In the context of post-Wende film, Tom Tykwer’s Winterschläfer seems to turn away from the socio-political implications of the fall of the Wall and reunification, retreating instead to a more familiar space of originary symbiosis. In this paper, I will show how Winterschläfer extends and suspends the sleeping state, holding its characters in a uterine time and space of hibernation. Using Kristeva’s notion of the abject which confuses the attempt at defining the clean and proper body, preventing a clear demarcation of self and other, this essay will consider how sleep, as a borderline state, is exploited to defer the traumatic effects of separation from the (m)other. The characters’ retreat into cocoon-like interiors anticipates a logic of metamorphosis, making the film’s title programmatic. The frozen world outside doubles this suspension, but renders it problematic. The bleached snowscape contrasts with Tykwer’s self-conscious use of colour, marking topographically the loss the characters experience: loss of life and memory. The snow at once bears and hides the traces of events, which, following Freud, become distorted in the dream-work, and, most significantly, of fallen bodies, expelled, ab-jected from the womb-like interiors.

Chainsaws and Neo-Nazis: Contemporary German Horror Film Production.

Randall Halle, Pittsburgh (pages 40-61)

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Although horror film production has a long history in Germany, in German film studies discussions of the horror genre have focused almost exclusively on the silent era. For long decades production in the genre was almost solely the province of international co-productions done under low-budget conditions aimed at a mass audience. These circumstances made it an unlikely object of study for nationally oriented high cultural studies. This essay reviews this history of post-war horror films, arguing that German horror film production experienced a sudden significant shift at the time of unification and has continued on in newly invigorated forms that merit careful consideration. In the subcultural form of Wende Horror we find artefacts from the period of unification that open up discussion of social psychology. In the subsequent productions we discover mainstream transnational horror films that reflect the new conditions of film financing in the global era. The essay ends with six reflections oriented toward fostering the further study of German horror film.

Mitteleuropa und seine filmische Wiederkehr: Zu Stanislaw Muchas Die Mitte.

Erica Carter, Warwick (pages 62-77)

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Dieser Artikel betrachtet Stanislaw Muchas Dokumentarfilm Die Mitte (2004) als exemplarisch für allgemein zu beobachtende Trends im neuen deutschen Film: eine zunehmende Faszination mit den Ländern des ehemaligen Ostblocks und der Problematik Europa und eine neue Beliebtheit des Dokumentarfilms als Mainstream-Genre. Nach einer Erläuterung des Begriffs “Mitteleuropa” geht er anhand von vier Sequenzen aus Muchas Film auf zwei Fragen ein: Was sagt der Film über die kulturelle Identität des heutigen Europas aus und welche Subjekt-Objekt-Beziehungen erarbeitet er zwischen dem Filmemacher und seinem westeuropäischen Kinopublikum einerseits und den Osteuropäern, mit denen er sich beschäftigt, andererseits? Zum Schluss wird der Film auch als Fallbeispiel für eine postnational zu verstehende “deutsche” Filmlandschaft vorgestellt.

Kanaka sprak? German-Turkish women filmmakers.

Giovannella Rendi, Ferrara (pages 78-93)

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Thanks to German-Turkish filmmakers the German Cinema has overcome the dark decade of the 1980s and is alive again. Strongly influenced by popular film genres, the second generation of migrants refuses to be victimized, claiming, on the contrary, a new multicultural identity, and asserting a pride in being “Kanak”. In a panorama strongly dominated by male film directors, female filmmakers attest to the parallel existence of a different language, one in which they try more critically to reconcile their Turkish roots with their German present. Particularly Ayse Polat and Seyhan Derin show a new way to overcome the “cinema of duty” re-elaborating in an original way the theme of the journey and redefining the enclosed space of the Kammerspiel.

Downfall and Beyond: Hitler Films from Germany.

Martin Brady, London, and Helen Hughes, Surrey (pages 94-114)

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Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Der Untergang (2004) is a film of considerable historical importance and one which has generated controversy and lively debate. Readily available with supporting material (and subtitles if required) it is thus an excellent resource for teachers. Marketed as “der erste deutsche Spielfilm, der die letzten Tage des NS-Regimes und die Person Adolf Hitler in Szene setzt”, Der Untergang is claimed to have finally broken a long-standing taboo. This article aims both to unpick this claim and to examine the significance of Hirschbiegel’s film in the context of earlier representations of Hitler. From Brecht’s Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (1941) to Syberberg’s Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland (1977) German dramatists and filmmakers have resorted to a range of estrangement devices in their portrayal of Hitler, thereby sidestepping the empathetic strategies of mass entertainment. What is striking about Hirschbiegel’s film is that it embraces these strategies and is unabashedly conventional in its narrative, mise-en-scène and cinematography. It represents, perhaps, a break with the Brechtian tradition of representing the Führer. The discussion in this article focuses on what might be termed adequate or legitimate representation – how can (or should) Hitler be portrayed in the so-called “post-memory era”?

Teaching Andreas Dresen.

Laura G. McGee, Bowling Green (pages 115-130)

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The films of Andreas Dresen, a “last generation” director born and educated in the former German Democratic Republic, offer a rich variety of opportunities to teach the cultural, social and political complexities of the post-unification period in Germany. This paper establishes the context from which Dresen’s work emerges by introducing two of his early student films as well as two essays written during his studies at the Academy for Film and Television in Babelsberg/Potsdam. These two essays serve to describe the Endstimmung for many in the culture industry of the late 1980s and may be used as textual material in discussions that invite students to make comparisons to their own lives. In the sections that follow, this paper presents strategies for teaching two of Dresen’s films from the late 1990s, Raus aus der Haut (Changing Skins) and Nachtgestalten (Night Shapes). It places an emphasis on cultural awareness and comparisons in relation to Raus aus der Haut and higher-order thinking in relation to Nachtgestalten. These films are most suited for upper level courses at the university, though Raus aus der Haut may appeal to students in secondary education as well



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