A Critical History of German Film

A Critical History of German Film

Stephen Brockmann


Camden House



A historical survey of German films as works of art from the beginnings to the present, suitable for classroom use.

A history of German film dealing with individual films as works of art has long been needed. Existing histories tend to treat cinema as an economic rather than an aesthetic phenomenon; earlier surveys that do engage with individual films do not include films of recent decades. This book treats representative films from the beginnings of German film to the present. Providing historical context through an introduction and interchapters preceding the treatments of each era's films, the volume is suitable for semester- or year-long survey courses and for anyone with an interest in German cinema.

The films: The Student of Prague - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - The Last Laugh - Metropolis - The Blue Angel - M - Triumph of the Will - The Great Love - The Murderers Are among Us - Sun Seekers - Trace of Stones - The Legend of Paul and Paula - Solo Sunny - The Bridge - Young Törless - Aguirre, The Wrath of God - Germany in Autumn - The Marriage of Maria Braun - The Tin Drum - Marianne and Juliane - Wings of Desire - Maybe, Maybe Not - Rossini - Run Lola Run - Good Bye Lenin! - Head On - The Lives of Others

Stephen Brockmann is Professor of German at Carnegie Mellon University and past President of the German Studies Assocation.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781571137227), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


November 2010
38 black and white illustrations
532 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571134684
Format: Paperback
Camden House
BISAC PER004030, PER004000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Critical Film History and German Studies
Early German Film History 1895-1918: Historical Overview
Der Student von Prag (1913) and Learning to Look
Weimar Cinema 1919-1933: Historical Overview
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) or Film as Hypnosis
Der letzte Mann (1924) or Learning to Move
Metropolis (1927) or Technology and Sex
Der blaue Engel (1927) and Learning to Talk
M (1931) or Sound and Terror
Nazi Cinema 1933-1945: Historical Overview
Triumph des Willens: (1935): Documentary and Propaganda
Die große Liebe (1942) or Love and War
German Cinema at the Zero Hour 1945-1949: Historical Overview
Die Mörder sind unter uns: (1946): The Rubble Film
Postwar East German Cinema 1949-1989: Historical Overview
Sonnensucher (1958) or Searching for the Socialist Sun
Spur der Steine (1966) or Traces of Repression
Die Legende von Paul und Paula (1966) or East Germany in the '70s
Solo Sunny (1980) or Even Socialism Can't Stave Off Loneliness
Postwar West German Cinema 1949-1989: Historical Overview
Die Brücke (1959): Film and War
Der junge Törless (1966) or Recapturing Tradition
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972): Film and the Sublime
Deutschland im Herbst (1978) or Film and Politics
Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1979) or West Germany Rebuilds
Die Blechtrommel (1979) or Coming to Terms with the Nazi Past
Die bleierne Zeit (1981): Film and Terrorism
Der Himmel über Berlin (1987): Berlin, City of Angels
German Film after Reunification 1990-2010: Historical Overview
Der bewegte Mann (1994) or West German Self-Absorption
Rossini (1994) or West German Self-Absorption Criticized
Lola rennt (1998) or Cool Germania
Good Bye Lenin! (2003) or Farewell to the Socialist Motherland
Gegen die Wand (2004) or Germany Goes Multicultural
Das Leben der anderen (2006) or the Power of Art


[T]ypical of Brockmann's work in its ambition, its eye for key details, and its nuanced appreciation of cultural texts. However, most impressive of all, given the amount of material he covers, is its readability. The volume has a wonderfully accessible style that explains while never patronizing the reader. Its tone will no doubt ensure its success with its intended audience, as well as any other reader who wishes to obtain a clear sense of German film's unique contribution to world cinema. JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN STUDIES [Paul Cooke]

[O]ccupies a unique position in contemporary film scholarship. . . . [W]ritten with remarkable clarity in a refreshingly jargon-free idiom . . . . [A]n indispensable volume for both students and teachers of film. . . . [T]here is no comparable study that offers such a comprehensive and even-handed overview of the landmarks of German cinema in their socio-political context, and Brockmann's volume will surely become a core text on both undergraduate and graduate film courses for many years to come. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW [Seán Allan]

[T]he first encompassing study [of German film] to construct its account largely through extended discussion of key film works. . . . [S]ubstantially successful in illustrating broad arguments about historical development through detailed attention to the narrative texture of canonical films. . . . [T]his is a volume that can certainly be recommended as a textbook for the study of German film. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES [Andrew Webber]

Brockmann's approach is new and original. Students will find an excellent starting point in their understanding of German film history with this book. University libraries should offer [it] to their students, along with DVD copies of the classic movies discussed. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW [Yves Laberge]

Currently the only available history of German cinema written in English that both charts German film history from its beginnings during the Kaiserreich to its state in the third millennium and provides a series of sustained readings of individual films. . . . Brockmann's critical intervention . . . is without doubt an achievement that will become canonical in courses surveying German film history. GERMAN QUARTERLY [Marco Abel]

Author Bio

Associate professor of German, Carnegie Mellon University.

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