A New History of German Cinema

September 2012
54 black and white illustrations
692 pages
9x6 in
Screen Cultures: German Film and the Visual
Camden House
BISAC PER004030, HIS014000

A New History of German Cinema

Edited by Jennifer M. Kapczynski, Michael D. Richardson

A dynamic, event-centered exploration of the hundred-year history of German-language film.
This dynamic, event-centered anthology offers a new understanding of the hundred-year history of German-language film, from the earliest days of the Kintopp to contemporary productions like The Lives of Others. Each of the more than eighty essays takes a key date as its starting point and explores its significance for German film history, pursuing its relationship with its social, political, and aesthetic moment. While the essays offer ample temporal and topical spread, this book emphasizes the juxtaposition of famous and unknown stories, granting attention to a wide range of cinematic events. Brief section introductions provide a larger historical and film-historical framework that illuminates the essays within it, offering both scholars and the general reader a setting for the individual texts and figures under investigation. Cross-references to other essays in the book are included at the close of each entry, encouraging readers not only to pursue familiar trajectories in the development of German film, but also to trace particular figures and motifs across genres and historical periods. Together, the contributions offer a new view of the multiple, intersecting narratives that make up German-language cinema. The constellation that is thus established challenges unidirectional narratives of German film history and charts new ways of thinking about film historiography more broadly.

Jennifer Kapczynski is Associate Professor of German at Washington University, St. Louis, and Michael Richardson is Associate Professor of German at Ithaca College.

Table of Contents

Introduction - Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson
1 November 1895: Premiere of Wintergarten Program Highlights Transitional Nature of Early Film Technology - Janelle Blankenship
22 September 1907: Sigmund Freud Is Attracted to the Movies but Feels Lonely in the Crowd - Tan Waelchli
Spring 1911: At Munich's Frankfurter Hof a Comedy Team Is Born - Christian Rogowski
27 May 1911: Asta Nielsen Secures Unprecedented Artistic Control - Heide Schlüpmann
18 December 1913: Atlantis Triggers Controversy about Sinking of Culture - Deniz Gokturk
21 January 1914: Premiere of Die Firma heiratet Inaugurates Fashion Farce - Mila Ganeva
6 March 1920: Chinese Students Raise Charges of Racism against Die Herrin der Welt - Tobias Nagl
23 May 1920: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari Brings Aesthetic Modernism to the Fairground - Paul Dobryden
15 October 1920: Ernst Lubitsch Fuels Debate over Tears in the Cinema - Michael Wedel
4 March 1921: With Das Floss der Toten, the Dead Come Back to Town - Philipp Stiasny
1 April 1921: Walther Ruttmann's Lichtspiel: Opus 1 Shapes Culture of Abstract Filmmaking - Gregory Zinman
27 May 1921: Scherben Seeks Cinematic Equivalent of Theatrical Intimacy - Patrick Vonderau
14 September 1922: Schüfftan Process Reconciles Artistic Craftsmanship with Demands of Entertainment Industry - Katharina Loew
13 October 1922: Alexander Kolowrat-Krakowsky Sets Course of Austrian (Inter)National Film - Robert von Dassanowsky
29 November 1923: Karl Grune's Die Straße Inaugurates "Street Film," Foreshadows Film Noir - Anton Kaes
31 January 1924: Premiere of Orlacs Hände Marks Beginning of the End of Expressionism - Paul Coates
14 February 1924: Die Nibelungen Premieres, Foregrounds "Germanness" - Adeline Mueller
10 May 1924: Der Berg des Schicksals Inaugurates the Genre of the "Mountain Film" - Kamaal Haque
23 December 1924: Der letzte Mann Explores Limits of Modern Community - Robert Schechtman
16 March 1925: Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit Educates Audiences in the Art of Nudity - Britta Herdegen
3 May 1925: French and German Avant-Garde Converge at Der absolute Film - Joel Westerdale
10 January 1927: Brigitte Helm Embodies Ambivalence of the New Woman -
17 June 1927: Amateur Film League Aids Invention of Film Culture - Martina Roepke
16 December 1927: Debut of Familientag im Hause Prellstein Provokes Debate about Jewish Identity in Popular Cinema - Daniel H. Magilow
31 January 1929: Limits on Racial Border-Crossing Exposed in Piccadilly - Cynthia Walk
9 May 1929: Oscar for Emil Jannings Highlights Exchange between German and American Film Industries - Gerd Gemünden
3 June 1929: Lloyd Bacon's The Singing Fool Triggers Debate about Sound Film - Lutz Koepnick
4 February 1930: Menschen am Sonntag Provides New Model of Cinematic Realism - Noah Isenberg
13 June 1930: Weekend Broadcast Tests Centrality of Image in Cinema - Brían Hanrahan
17 October 1930: Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera Lawsuit Identifies Contradiction between Individual Creativity and Collective Production in Cinema - Marc Silberman
11 December 1930: Ban of All Quiet on the Western Front Highlights Tensions over Sound Technology - Dayton Henderson
11 May 1931: With Premiere of M, a Gala Hit Becomes a Cultural Controversy - Sara Hall
28 March 1933: Goebbels's Kaiserhof Speech Reveals Tension between National and International Aims of Nazi Cinema - Laura Heins
29 February 1935: Der alte und der junge König Instrumentalizes Myth of Prussian Nationalism - Martina Lüke
28 March 1935: Premiere of Triumph des Willens Presents Fascism as Unifier of Communal Will - Kai Sicks and Michael Cowan
19 June 1935: Celebration of Lilian Harvey's Return Belies Ideological Incongruence in Nazi Entertainment Films - Antje Ascheid
30 August 1936: Luis Trenker Tries but Fails to Sidestep Nazi Filmpolitik - Carola Daffner
30 December 1940: Von Borsody's Wunschkonzert Mobilizes Melodrama for Total War - Jaimey Fisher
18 February 1941: The Devil and Daniel Webster Puts American Politics on Trial - Simon Richter
28 May 1942: Bertolt Brecht and Fritz Lang Write a Hollywood Screenplay - Jonathan Skolnik
3 September 1942: With Venice Premiere of Die goldene Stadt, Veit Harlan Enters Debate on Color Cinema - Russell Alt
18 January 1943: Bateson Analysis of Hitlerjunge Quex Stressses Value of Film as Key to National Culture - Gary Baker
18 May 1945: Welt im Film Newsreels, Rubble Films Model "Cool Conduct" - Wilfried Wilms
22 March 1946: Screenings of Die Todesmühlen Spark Controversy over German Readiness to Confront Nazi Crimes - Ulrike Weckel
16 August 1949: Ilse Kubaschewski Founds Gloria-Filmverleih, Sets the Course of Popular West German Film - Hester Baer
16 February 1952: Peter Lorre Leaves Germany Again - Gerd Gemünden
13 January 1954: Preminger's Dual-Language The Moon Is Blue (1953) and Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach (1954) Seek Glocal Success - Christine Haase
9 March 1954: Ernst Thälmann - Sohn seiner Klasse Marks High Point of Socialist Realism - Hunter Bivens
22 December 1955: Sissi Trilogy Bridges Hapsburg to Hollywood through Hybrid Blend of Film Genres - David Bathrick
2 February 1956: In Letter to Enno Patalas, Siegfried Kracauer Advocates a Socio-Aesthetic Approach to Film - Johannes von Moltke
21 June and 30 August 1957: Jonas and Berlin - Ecke Schönhauser Link Urban Reconstruction to National Cinema in Both West and East - Bastian Heinsohn
19 September 1958: Douglas Sirk's A Time to Love and a Time to Die Tests Limits of Postwar Feeling - Jennifer M. Kapczynski
4 September 1959: Der Frosch mit der Maske Moves Popular Cinema from Idyllic Pastures to Crime-Infested City Streets - Tassilo Schneider
28 February 1962: Oberhausen Manifesto Creates Founding Myth for New German Cinema - Eric Rentschler
1 February 1968: Herstellung eines Molotow-Cocktails Promotes Film as a Tool for Political Violence - Tilman Baumgärtel
1 February 1968: Konrad Wolf's Ich war neunzehn Evokes an East German Nation in Transition - Larson Powell
7 April 1968: Straub, Huillet, and Fassbinder Share the Stage at Munich's Action-Theater - Barton Byg
23 June 1968: Alexander Kluge Egged in Berlin, Months Later Awarded Gold Lion in Venice - Richard Langston
Fall 1968: Expulsion of Thomas Brasch from GDR Film School Signals Fate of East German '68ers - Katie Trumpener
30 June 1970: A Faltering Berlinale Founders on o.k. Controversy - Kris Vander Lugt
29 February 1972: With Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter New German Cinema Learns to Read - Brad Prager
24 June 1974: Launching of Frauen und Film Creates Lasting Forum for Feminist Film Writing and Practice - Annette Brauerhoch
20 June 1977: DEFA's Biggest Star, Manfred Krug, Leaves the GDR - John Griffith Urang
27 October 1977: Deutschland im Herbst Equivocates on RAF and Marks End Stage of Radical Filmmaking - Jennifer Marston William
22 January 1979: West German Broadcast of Holocaust Draws Critical Fire and Record Audiences - Erin McGlothlin
20 August 1981: R. W. Fassbinder's Lola Revisits Kracauer to Critique Adenauer Period - Brigitte Peucker
6 August 1984: Heimat Celebrated as "European Requiem for the Little People" - Rachel Palfreyman
8 June 1986: Farocki's Wie man sieht Urges New Ways of Seeing - Michael Cowan
2 February 1988: Last Generation of DEFA Directors Calls in Vain for Reform - Reinhild Steingröver
23 July 1991: ZDF Broadcast of Ostkreuz Initiates Darker Reckoning with the Wende - Mattias Frey
6 May 1992: Marlene Dietrich's Berlin Burial Links Postunification Germany with Weimar Republic's Internationalism - Barbara Kosta
25 August 1992: Ostalgie Provides Pushback against Western Views on the East German Collapse - Roger Cook
10 August 1994: One Month after Founding of X-Filme, Filmboard Berlin-Brandenburg Paves Way for New Productions in the Capital - Brigitta B. Wagner
2 November 1995: Neurosia Embodies Seventy-Five Years of Queer Film History - Randall Norman Halle
31 December 1995: Der bewegte Mann Sells 6.5 Million Tickets to Mark Peak of New German Comedy - David N. Coury
10 February 1999: Berlinale Premiere of Four Turkish-German Films Signals New Chapter in Cinematic Diversity - Andrea Reimann
30 April 1999: Werner Herzog's "Minnesota Declaration" Performs Critique of Documentary Cinema - Eric Ames
13 May 1999: Germany's Best Fiend, Klaus Kinski, Remembered at Cannes - Will Lehman
19 May 2000: With Code Inconnu Haneke Asserts Cinema's Centrality to Public Sphere - Monica Filimon
21 October 2001: Television Provides Platform for Record Box-Office Success of Der Schuh des Manitu - Sebastian Heiduschke
16 October 2003: Chancellor Gerhard Schröder Sheds Tears - Again - at Premiere of Das Wunder von Bern - Cornelius Partsch
14 February 2004: Golden Bear for Gegen die Wand Affirms Fatih Akin as Germany's Preeminent Transnational Director - Barbara Mennel
8 September 2004: Der Untergang Offers Palatable Authenticity - Michael D. Richardson
22 October 2005: Winner of Hessian Film Award Fremde Haut Queers Dual Binaries of Sexual and National Identity - Faye Stewart, Ph.D.
22 January 2007: Film Establishment Attacks "Berlin School" as Wrong Kind of National Cinema - Marco Abel
25 February 2007: Das Leben der Anderen Follows Blueprint for Foreign-Language Oscar Success - Paul Cooke - see C80107
6 December 2007: Indie Film Für den unbekannten Hund Seeks Space for Marginalized Male Heroism - Patricia Anne Simpson
11 February 2008: Ulrike Ottinger's Prater Wins German Critics' Award for Best Documentary Yet Highlights the Director's Ties to Both Fiction and Nonfiction Film - Nora M. Alter
Epilogue: The Many Lives of Contemporary German Cinema - Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson


There has never been a history of German film like this one. [Its] original approach is to write film history from the margins of the established film canon . . . . The contributions are compact in their argumentation and quite readable; an encyclopedia wasn't the intention. . . . The book is supremely suited as a completion of and especially as a critical confrontation with the canon . . . . [I]n the future one won't be able to bypass Kapczynski and Richardson's volume. . . . FILMBLATT [Wolfgang Fuhrmann]

The volume offers extensive and varied material on the history of German cinema; especially to be noted are the careful bibliographies. . . . The volume is well suited for classes on both the history of German cinema and on its present state, because it treats the most diverse topics carefully and offers concisely formulated insights along with suggestions for further reading. MONATSHEFTE

[A]n extremely rich and informative book [that makes an] important contribution to the area of German film studies . . . . [It] certainly performs the task demanded of this changing discipline and revises, reconfigures, and advances German national cinema in all of its dimensions. H-GERMAN REVIEWS

Film Book of the Year, 2012. I have decided in favor of [this] American publication on German film because I find its perspective on our film history particularly richly detailed, thought provoking, and original. HANS-HELMUT PRINZLER, WWW.HHPRINZLER.DE

Can claim top position just by its extent and number of contributions . . . . The chronological jigsaw puzzle joins together into an original and substantial whole. . . . One shouldn't forget that this is a film book from America. Thus: a view from the outside, which, however, has the advantage of a different curiosity and perspective. . . . It is astounding, given their brevity, how the texts hit their crucial marks. . . . With this book [the editors] have accomplished an extraordinary editorial feat. HANS-HELMUT PRINZLER, WWW.HHPRINZLER.DE

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