An insightful analysis of German film in the immediate post-war era
Old German films are the subject of study and admiration the world over. Two recent books shed more light on the subject.
At the end of World War II, Germany was a broken nation. Split in two and occupied by the victorious Allies, it would have to be rebuilt, literally, from the rubble of its own defeat. Volumes of books have been published chronicling its structural and economic rebirth; this unique study reveals how Germany rebuilt itself culturally.
Rubble Films: German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich (Publication Date: September 25, 2001) is a close look at German cinema in the immediate postwar era, and a careful examination of its relationship to Allied occupation. Shandley reveals how German film borrowed - both literally and figuratively - from its Nazi past, and how- the occupied powers (specifically the US) = used its position as victor to open Europe to Hollywood movie products and aesthetics.
In addition to a careful reading of several important immediate postwar films. Shandley also discusses how the German studio system operated immediately after the war. in the east and the west, giving special focus on DEFA, the east German studio that rose during Soviet occupation.
Path breaking in its research, Rubble Films sheds new light on a significant moment of German cultural rebirth and adds a new dimension to the study of the history, of film.
Robert R. Shandley is an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Texas A&M University, and editor of Unwilling Germans?: The Goldhagen Debate.
Rubble Films, German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich, Robert R. Shandley, cloth ISBN 1-56639-877-0 569.50; paper ISBN 1-56639-878-9 S18.95
The brightest stars in fascist films
Investigating the representation of women in Third Reich cinema, Hitler’s Heroines: Stardom and Womanhood in Nazi Cinema (Publication Date: April 18, 2003) studies the images of three popular female stars - Kristina Söderbaum, Lilian Harvey, and Zarah Leander during the era of National Socialism.
While these actresses (none of whom was born in Germany) made their names acting in romance pictures, melodramas, and musical comedies, they all rose to great prominence during the fascist era. Kristina Söderbaum best approximated the Nazi idea of womanhood, and starred as the heroine of the National Socialist era’s most propagandistic films; Lilian Harvey was a crossover star whose glamour and comic timing helped her maintain her popularity with audiences; and Zarah Leander, the highest paid star of the Nazi cinema, was an "instant-diva" groomed to replace Marlene Dietrich.
Chock full of fabulous photographs, Hitler’s Heroines examines the "perfect women" roles these actresses portrayed-wives and mothers, who often made sacrifices for their children and husbands. Yet because Nazi cinema articulated a female subjectivity, these anti-feminist images of women were controversial. Ascheid ably questions these models of womanhood and the tensions caused by linking gender and conformity to a political ideology in cinema.
In the series Culture and the Moving Image edited by Robert Sklar; Antje Ascheid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama and Theater at the University of Georgia.
Hitler’s Heroines: Stardom and Womanhood in Nazi Cinema, Antje Ascheid, cloth ISBN 156639-983-1 $64.50; paper ISBN 1-56639-984-X $19.95
Both books make for fascinating reading and are a must for the film buff.
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