Postwar Germany and the New German Cinema

Katie Trumpener, University of Chicago,

Winter, 1997  CMS 226, German 222/412, English 284/484, GSHum 211/311

The whole week the rumor had gone around in Berlin that the film was to be forbidden, and that in other cities it had led to rioting....
Already after the first minutes of the film the unrest began in the theater. After the demonstration, the construction workers had sprung naked into the pond, and when a policeman ordered them out, the giant brigade-member came up to him, grabbed his leg and pulled him into the water. The policeman paddled helplessly around, the workers laughed, and from the loudspeakers on the construction site came the slogans of the speeches: Socialism. Freedom. Disgusting! called a voice from the darkness. Mockery of our state power!...We will not allow our state to be mocked in our cinemas! I saw how Robert got up out of his seat and turned around to the man: Whose state? Not yours, said the man, without looking at Robert. We demand that the screening be broken off immediately, he screamed. Everywhere in the auditorium men now stood up and shouted, were pulled back into their seats, and on the screen stood the construction workers, moving their mouths, but without being comprehensible. Who permitted this film? screamed the man next to me. It insults the honor of the workers. Not mine, I said... Now I noticed for the first time that the screen was dark... The director of the cinema appeared in front of the screen. Under these circumstances the projection of the film cannot continue, he said. Those in charge of the cinema refuse to show a work of art to a public which erupts into tumultuous discussion, rather than paying attention to the film.

Thomas Brasch, fictionalized description of the East Berlin screening of Frank Beyer's Spur der Steine before its ban in 1966, Vor den Vätern sterben die Söhne (1977)

This course examines the emergence and development of the New German Cinema in relationship to post-war filmmaking in the divided Germany and to concurrent New Waves in the German Democratic Republic. We will pay equal attention to the aesthetic strategies of individual films, to their reflections on history, memory, subjectivity and cultural institutions, and to political, economic, institutional, cultural and film-historical contexts for the postwar cinema.

Because we have the unusual opportunity, this quarter, to view a major body of films made at the DEFA studios in the GDR, our course will attempt consistantly to think about the parallel and divergent cinematic (and social) developments East and West. At times, the juxtaposition will produce unexpected continuities and overlaps; at others, the non-synchronicity of the two cinemas (for instance in the timing of its various New Waves) will force us to rethink our usual ways of periodizing and conceptualizing film history.

Although there is a considerable film historiography from (and about) each Germany, there is to date very little that tries to contrast or synthesize both traditions. Because of this "divided criticism" (and because virtually all the GDR secondary literature is in German only), students are asked to participate in an experimental approach to secondary reading this quarter. Our primary emphasis, in discussion, will be on the films themselves. At the same time, students are asked to familiarize themselves with part of the secondary literature (in whatever language/s they are able to read); all final papers should reflect some familiarity with relevant parts of the secondary literature.

At some point in the quarter, additionally, each student will be expected to produce a one-page review/summary/position paper of one of the film monographs (in German or in English) listed below. These papers should not exceed one page; they should give the reader at once a sense of the content of the book, the approach of the book, and the successes and limitations of the approach. They should be reproduced in enough copies so that every student in the class (and the professor) has a personal copy to keep (or alternately, emailed to all members of the class). These papers are mandatory, but they will not be graded. Instead, they will serve
fellow-students by giving them a critical 'read' of some of the secondary literature.

Each undergraduate student will also be asked to write a 3-page paper on a topic of his or her own choice (developed in consultation with me, and probably involving a close reading of a film or part of a film), as well as an 8-10 page paper due on the last day of class .

Each graduate student will also be asked to write a termpaper, of ca. 15 pages, due on the last day of class.

Recommended "background" reading (avail. at Sem. Coop; Reg Reserve)
For weeks 1-5: Heide Fehrenbach, Cinema in Democratizing Germany
For weeks 5-10: Thomas Elsaesser, New German Cinema
For primary documents about NGC: Eric Rentschler, West German Filmmakers
For general background in film analysis: David Bordwell and Kristen
Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction

Thinking Back: The Postwar Period and the War's Prehistory
Wed. Jan. 8  Hungerjahre/Hunger Years (Jutta Brückner, 1979)
Sun. Jan. 11 The Murderers are Among Us/Die Mörder sind unter uns. (Wolfgang Staudte, DEFA, 91 min. 1946)
Wed. Jan. 14  Der Untertan/The Subject (Wolfgang Staudte, DEFA, 1951)

Women's Lives: Fascism, Everyday Life, Destalinization
Sun. Jan. 18 DOC: Ehe im Schatten/Marriage in the Shadows (Kurt Maetzig, DEFA, 1947, 104 min.)
Wed. Jan. 21  FC: Lissy (Konrad Wolf, DEFA, 1957)
Sun. Jan. 25  Sonnensucher (Konrad Wolf, DEFA, 1958/1972)

Jutta Brückner, "Women's Films are Searches for Traces," in Rentschler, ed. West German Filmmakers on Film (WGFOF), 85-9.
Christian Ziewer, "Last Words for Wolfgang Staudte," WGFOF, 118-120.
On Der Untertan: Marc Silberman, "Semper fidelis," in Rentschler, ed. German Film and Literature, 146-160.

Suggested readings/reports on DEFA's beginnings:
Mückenberger and Jordan, Sie sehen selbst...
Christiane Mückenberger, "Zeit der Hoffnungen 1946 bis 1949," 8-49 and
Ralf Schenk, "Mitten im Kalten Krieg 1950-60," 50-157 in Schenk, ed., Das zweite Leben.
Heimann, DEFA, Künstler, und Kulturpolitik.
Fritz Göttler, "Westdeutscher Nachkriegsfilm," in Jacobsen et al, Geschichte des deutschen Films, 171-211.
Fehrenbach, "Die Sünderin or Who Killed the German Man?", Cinema in Democratizing Germany.

New Waves. Divisions and Loopings.
Sun. Feb. 1  DOC: Divided Heaven/Der geteilte Himmel (Konrad Wolf, DEFA,1963, 114 min.)
Wed. Feb. 4  FC: Nicht versöhnt/Not reconciled (Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet, ca. 50 min.)
                        and Brot der frühen Jahre/Bread of the Early Years (Herbert Veseley, 1962, 87 min.)

Suggested background reading: 
Heide Fehrenbach, Cinema in Democratizing Germany, esp. Chs. 6 and 7.
Norbert Grob, "Film der sechziger Jahre," and Wolfgang Gersch, "Film in der DDR," Jacobsen, Geschichte des deutschen Films, 211-248 and 323-365.
Rentschler, ed.WGFOF: esp. "The Oberhausen Manifesto," 2; Alexander Kluge, "What do the Oberhauseners Want," 10-13; Ottomar Domnick, "Freeing Onesself from Old Hat," 60-1.
On Huillet and Straub: Barton Byg, Landscapes of Resistance.
On Vesely: Fernand Jung, "Das Kino der frühen Jahre: Herbert Vesely und die Filmavantgarde in der Bundesrepublik," in Berger et al., Zwischen gestern u. morgen, 318-340.
Also: Thomas Brandlmeier, "Die Münchner Schule: Zur Vorgeschichte des jungen deutschen Films 1962-1968," in Abschied von gestern, 50-71.
Anne Paech, "Die Schule der Zuschauer: Zur Geschichte der deutschen Filmclubbewegung," in Zwischen gestern und morgen, 226-247.

Rethinking the War: Cold and Hot
Sun. Feb. 8 DOC: The Gleiwitz Case (Gerhard Klein, 1961, 70 min.)
Wed. Feb. 11 FC Lebenszeichen/Signs of Life (Werner Herzog, 1968, video)

--On Lebenszeichen, Brigitte Peuker, "The invalidation of Arnim: Herzog's Signs of Life (1968)", in Rentschler, ed. German Film and Literature, 217-230.
--On Herzog, see Timothy Corrigan, ed. The Films of Werner Herzog: Between Mirage and History.

1965: Breakthrough, Clampdown
Sun. Feb. 15 Berlin around the Corner/Berlin um die Ecke (Gerhard Klein, 1966/1988, 87 min.)
Wed. Feb. 18 Yesterday Girl/Abschied von Gestern (Alexander Kluge, 1965)

On 1965 in the GDR: Günther Agde, ed. Kahlschlag.
On GDR cinema around/after 1965, see Erika Richter, "Zwischen Mauerbau und Kahlschlag 1961 bis 1965" and Klaus Wischnewski, "Träumer und Gewöhnliche Leute 1966 bis 1979", in Schenk, ed. Das zweite Leben, 157-264,
and Sigrun O. Leonhard, "Testing the Borders," in Daniel Goulding, ed. Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 51-101.
On Abschied von Gestern: Miriam Hansen, "Space of history, language of time: Kluge's Yesterday Girl (1966)," in Rentschler, ed. German Film and Literature, 193-216.
On Kluge: October 46 (Fall 1988) Special issue on Alexander Kluge.

Anti-Heroes and Anti-Theater
Sun. Feb. 22  Spur der Steine (Frank Beyer, 1965/1990, 139 m)
Wed. Feb. 25  Katzelmacher (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969)

Suggested reading: Klaus Kreimeier, "Rückblick auf ein Biedermeier mit Raketen" and Georg Seeßlen, "Nichts Fremdes in keinem Eigenen" in Abschied von Gestern, 10-49.
Wenders, "Emotion Pictures," WGFOF, 42-5.

Women's Pictures: Legends, Backprojections
Sun. March 1. The Legend of Paul and Paula/ Legende von Paul und Paula (Heiner Carow, 1975, 106 m.) 
Winter Adé/Adieu Winter, Helke Misselwitz, 1988, 115 min.
Wed. March 4  Deutschland, bleiche Mutter (Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1979)

On Deutschland, Bleiche Mutter:
Anton Kaes, From Hitler to Heimat, Ch. 5, "Our Childhoods, Ourselves: Helma Sanders-Brahms' "Germany Pale Mother," 139-159.
Angelika Bammer, "Through a Daughter's Eyes: Helma Sanders-Brahms' Germany, Pale Mother," New German Critique 36 (1985), 91-109.
Richard W. McCormick, "Women's Discourse and the German Past: Germany, Pale Mother in Politics of the Self, 186-207.

On women's cinema: Julia Knight, Women and the New German Cinema; Marli
Feldvoß, "Kundschafterinnen im Raum der Zeit," in Abschied von gestern, 116-137; "From Hitler to Hepburn: A Discussion on Women's Films, Production and Reception," New German Critique 24-25 (Fall/Winter 1981-2): 172-185.

In Rentschler, WGFOF: "Manifesto of Women Film Workers," 5-6, Helke Sander, "Men are Responsible," 25-30 and "Feminism and Film," 75-81; several essays by Sanders-Brahms.

We end with singing and dancing...
Sun. March 8  Strictly Propaganda/Kinder, Kader and East Side Story: 2 documentaries about GDR "didactic films" and about the musical in the GDR and elsewhere in Eastern Europe

Important books for background reading/class reports
Heimann, Thomas (1994)  DEFA, Künstler und SED-Kulturpolitik: zum Verhältnis von Kulturpolitik und Filmproduktion in der SBZ/DDR 1945 bis 1959. Berlin: Vistas Verlag.
Leonhard, Sigrun D. (1989) "Testing the Borders: East German Film between Individualism and Social Commitment," in Daniel J. Goulding. Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 55-101.
Liehm, Mira and Antonin, The Most Important Art. Overview of cinema in post-war Eastern Europe, including several chapters on the GDR. The only work in English to think about DEFA in relationship to other Eastern European cinemas.
Mückenberger, Christiane and Günther Jordan (1994)  "Sie sehen selbst, Sie hören selbst: Die DEFA von ihren Anfängen bis 1949. Marburg: Hitzeroth.
Schenk, Ralf, ed. (1994) Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg. DEFA-Spielfilme 1946-1992. Berlin: Henschel Verlag.  PN1993.5.G3.Z843.1994

Berger, Jürgen et al, eds. (1989) Zwischen gestern und morgen: Westdeutscher Nachkriegsfilm 1946-1962. Frankfurt: Deutsches Filmmuseum
Collins, Richard and Vincent Porter (1981) WDR and the Arbeiterfilm: Fassbinder, Ziewer and others. London: British Film Institute.
Corrigan, Timothy (1983) New German Cinema: The Displaced Image. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Knight, Julia (1992) Women and the New German Cinema. London: Verso.
Rentschler, Eric (1984). West German Film in the Course of Time. Reflections on the Twenty Years since Oberhausen. Bedford Hills: Redgrave Publishing Company.

Other books of interest - English
Byg, Barton. (1996) Landscapes of Resistance. The German Films of Danielle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub. Berkeley: University of California.
Corrigan, Timothy, ed. (1986) The Films of Werner Herzog. Between Mirage and History. New York and London: Methuen.
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (1974) The Consciousness Industry: On Literature, Politics and the Media. New York: Seabury Press.
Frieden, Sandra, Richard W. McCormick, Vibeke R. Peterson, and Laurie Melissa Vogelsang, eds. (1993) Gender and German Cinema. Feminist Interventions. Volume I: Gender and Representation in New German Cinema and Volume II: German Film History/German History on Film. Providence: Berg.
Kaes, Anton (1989)  From Hitler to Heimat. The Return of History as Film. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Insdorf, Annette. Indelible Shadows. Overview of European films about the Holocaust.
Silbermann, Marc. (1995) German Cinema: Texts in Context. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
McCormick, Richard W. (1991) Politics of the Self: Feminism and the Postmodern in West German Literature and Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kaplan, E. Ann. 1983. Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera. New York: Methuen.
New German Critique: special issues on NGC, on Heimat, etc.
Philips, Klaus, ed. (1984) New German Filmmakers: From Oberhausen Through the 1970s. New York: Frederick Ungar.
Rayns, Tony, ed. (1980)  Fassbinder. Rev. ed. London: British Film Institute.
Rentschler, Eric, ed. (1986). German Film and Literature: Adaptations and Transformations. New York: Methuen.
Rentschler, Eric, ed. (1988) West German Filmmakers on Film. Visions and Voices. New York and London: Holmes and Meier.
Sandford, John (1980)  The New German Cinema. New York: De Capo.
Shattuc, Jane (1995) Television, Tabloids and Tears: Fassbinder and Popular Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Silberman, Marc. (1996). German Films in Context. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
Wenders, Wim. (1989) Emotion Pictures. Reflections on the Cinema. London: Faber and Faber.

Other books of interest - German
Agde, Günther (ed.) (1991)  Kahlschlag: Das 11. Plenum des ZK der SED 1965, Berlin: Aufbau.
Staritz, Dietrich (1985) Geschichte der DDR 1949-1985, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
Jansen, Peter W. and Wolfram Schütte, eds. (1977) Film in der DDR. Munich: Hanser. not in Regenstein.
Orbanz, Eva (1977). Wolfgang Staudte. Berlin: Verlag Volker Spiess, 1977.
Pleyer, Peter.  (1965) Deutscher Nachkriegsfilm 1946-1948. Münster: Verlag C.J. Fahle.
Zilinski, Lissi  et al, eds. (1970) Spielfilme der DEFA im Urteil der Kritik. Ausgewählte Rezensionen. Berlin: Henschelverlag.

Bliersbach, Gerhard (1985)  So grün war die Heide. Der deutsche Nachkriegsfilm in neuer Sicht. Weinheim und Basel: BELTZ Verlag.
Grob, Norbert (1991). Wenders. Berlin: Edition Filme/ Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GMBH.
Jary, Micaela Jary (1993). Traumfabriken made in Germany: Die Geschichte des deutschen Nachkriegsfilms 1945-1960. Berlin: edition q.
Kluge, Alexander, ed. (1983) Bestandsaufnahme: Utopie Film. Zwanzig Jahre neuer deutscher Film. Frankfurt: Zweitausendeins.
Möhrmann, Renate (1980) Die Frau mit der Kamera. Filmemacherinnen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Situationen, Perspektiven. Zehn exemplarische Lebensläufe. Munich: Hanser.
Petermann, Werner and Ralph Thoms, eds. (1988) Kino-Fronten: 20 Jahre '68 und das Kino. München: Trickster.
Riess, Curt. (1958) Das gibt's nur einmal: Das Buch des deutschen Films nach 1945. Hamburg: Henri Nannen Verlag.

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