East German Cinema

Eric Ames, University of Washington Seattle, eames@u.washington.edu

This research seminar explores the history of East Geman cinema through the films of the state-owned studios of DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), 1946-1992. After examining a selection of “rubble films” and considering the ideological foundation of DEFA as an institution, we will explore a diversity of film genres and styles, including Westerns and musicals, as well as movies that were banned under state censorship. The syllabus is organized topically, focusing on (but not limited to) the following issues: continuities and breaks with Weimar cinema and the Nazi past; anti-fascism and problems of resistance; tensions of film production, Communist Party politics, and historical spectatorship; gender, sexuality, and socialism; genre films and cultural clichés; consumer culture in a socialist context; the enduring cult power and nostalgia of DEFA films in Germany today; questions of German “national” cinema after unification.

By the end of the quarter students will gain a nuanced understanding of East German cinema in its historical context. This overall objective encompasses several particular goals as well. As a result of this seminar, each participant should be able to:
· explain key concepts of film theory and history;
· identify various approaches to the study of East German cinema;
· analyze films closely and historically;
· develop a theoretically informed research paper.

· Allan and Sandford, eds. DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946-1992 (= A/S)
· Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR 1949-1989
· Course Reader (= CR)

Films are available on reserve for German 592 at the Media Center in Odegaard Library. As with readings, films are to be viewed outside of class, in advance of each meeting.

Assignments and Grading
In addition to regular attendance, readings, and involvement in class discussion (25% of course grade), the following will be expected of each participant:
· one presentation on a weekly topic (25%)
· 250-word paper proposal, due April 27
· 10-page conference paper or 20-page research paper (50%).

Tentatively scheduled for June 7-8. Details to be discussed in class.

Introduction: DEFA and German Film History

Anti-Fascism and the Nazi Past
Die Mörder sind unter uns (Wolfgang Staudte, 1946, 81 min.)
Irgendwo in Berlin (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1946, 79 min.)
Allan, “DEFA: An Historical Overview” (A/S, Ch. 1); Sandford, “The Communist Strategy for Germany, 1935-1945” (CR); Shandley, “The Trouble with Rubble” (CR); Fulbrook, pp. 1-86

Memory and Representation of the Holocaust
Ehe im Schatten (Kurt Maetzig, 1947, 105 min.)
Jakob der Lügner (Frank Beyer,1974, 96 min.)
Herf, “The Nuremberg Interregnum” (CR); Brady, “Discussion with Kurt Maetzig” (A/S, Ch. 5); Gilman, “Is Life Beautiful?” (CR)

Gender, Consumption, and Cultural Imperialism
Frauenschicksale (Slatan Dudow, 1952,105 min.)
Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (Gerhard Klein, 1957, 81 min.)
Bebel, “Woman in the Future” (CR); Also, “Rhetoric and Reality” (CR); Claus, “Rebels with a Cause” (A/S, Ch. 6); Kohlhaase, “A Personal View” (A/S, Ch. 7); excerpt from Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels (CR)

The Eleventh Plenum and After
Denk bloss nicht ich heule (Frank Vogel, 1965, 91 min.)
Ich war neunzehn (Konrad Wolf, 1968, 115 min.)
Trumpener, “La guerre est finie” (CR); Coulson, “Paths of Discovery” (A/S, Ch. 10); Fulbrook, pp. 151-200
Due: Paper proposal

Entertainment and Utopia
Die Söhne der grossen Bärin (Joseph Mach, 1966, 93 min.)
Heisser Sommer (Joachim Hasler, 1968, 91 min.)
Gemünden, “Between Karl May and Karl Marx” (CR); Sieg, “Race and Reconstruction” (CR); Dyer, “Entertainment and Utopia” (CR)

The Everyday: Reality or Fantasy?
Die Legende von Paul und Paula (Heiner Carow, 1973, 106 min.)
Feinstein, “The Triumph of the Ordinary” (CR); Rinke, “From Models to Misfits” (A/S, Ch. 11); Fulbrook, pp. 129-150

Documentary and History
Die Mauer (Jürgen Böttcher, 1992)
Sperrmüll (Helke Misselwitz, 1990, 80 min.)
Martha (Jürgen Böttcher, 1978, 48 min.);
Konzert im Freiem (Jürgen Böttcher, 2001, 88 min.)
Ladd, “Berlin Walls” (CR); Kilborn, “The Documentary Work of Jürgen
Böttcher” (A/S, Ch. 15); Silberman, “Post-Wall Documentaries” (CR)

Reflections on East German Cinema
Good bye, Lenin! (Wolfgang Becker, 2002, 120 min.)
Bach, “The Taste Remains” (CR); Fulbrook, pp. 201-265

DEFA’s Afterlives and the Question of German National Cinema
Higson, “The Concept of National Cinema” (CR); Rentschler, “Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus” (CR); Fulbrook, pp. 269-289

Conference (TBA)

Selected Internet Resources
UW Libraries - Cinema Studies: http://www.lib.washington.edu/subject/CinemaStudies/
Film Literature Index: http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/fli/index.jsp
German film portal: http://www.filmportal.de/df/index.html
DEFA Film Library: http://www.umass.edu/defa/
DEFA @ Oldenburg: http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/defa/index.html
DEFA-Stiftung: http://www.defa-stiftung.de/
DDR-Suche: http://www.ddr-suche.de/
DDR im WWW: http://www.ddr-im-www.de/index2.htm
Deutsches Filminstitut (DIF): http://www.deutsches-filminstitut.de
Lexikon der Filmbegriffe: http://lexikon.bender-verlag.de/suche.php
Keywords of Media Theory: http://humanities.uchicago.edu/faculty/mitchell/glossary2004/navigation.htm

See Appendix to A/S, “Research Sources” and “Selected Bibliography”
See DEFA Film Library: http://www.umass.edu/defa/
HHF Auswahlbibliographie DEFA: http://www.bibl.hff-potsdam.de/defa50/index.php

In the Germanics Department DVD collection:
Die grossen DEFA Dokumentarfilme (PAL), contains: Einheit SPD – KPD (Maetzig, 1946); Aufbau Ost 1946 (Maetzig, 1946); Immer bereit (Maetzig, 1950); Der Weg nach Oben (Thorndike/Gass, 1950); Blaue Wimpel im Sommerwind (Ballmann, 1952); Baumeister des Sozialismus Walter Ulbricht (Ensink, 1953); Das Leben unseres Präsidenten – Wilhelm Pieck (Thorndike, 1962); Schaut auf diese Stadt (Gass, 1962); Wer die Erde liebt… (Hellwig, 1974); Die Mauer (Böttcher, 1990)

DEFA films at Odegaard Media Center – All on course reserve for German 592
Spur der Steine
Jakob der Lügner
Solo Sunny
Ich war neunzehn
Children of Golzow
Schaut auf diese Stadt
Die Mauer
Die Mörder sind unter uns
Kabale und Liebe
Karbid und Sauerampfer
Denk bloß nicht, ich heule
Das Kaninchen bin ich
Chingachgook, die große Schlange
Die Söhne der großen Bärin
Figaros Hochzeit
Jahrgang 45
Heisser Sommer
Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser
Unser täglich Brot
Auf der Sonnenseite
Die Legende von Paul und Paula
Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck
Der Untertan
Die Beunruhigung
Das Beil von Wandsbek
Irgendwo in Berlin
Affaire Blum
East Side Story

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