Feminism, Film, Fascism: Women's Auto/Biographical Film in Postwar Germany

Synopsis

German society' inability and/or refusal to come to terms with its Nazi past has been analyzed in many cultural works, including the well-known books Society without the Father and The Inability to Mourn . In this pathfinding study, Susan Linville challenges the accepted wisdom of these books by focusing on a cultural realm in which mourning for the Nazi past and opposing the patriarchal and authoritarian nature of postwar German culture are central concerns—namely, women' feminist auto/biographical films of the 1970s and 1980s. After a broad survey of feminist theory, Linville analyzes five important films that reflect back on the Third Reich through the experiences of women of different ages—Marianne Rosenbaum' Peppermint Peace , Helma Sanders-Brahms' Germany, Pale Mother , Jutta Bruuml;ckner' Hunger Years , Margarethe von Trotta' Marianne and Juliane , and Jeanine Meerapfel' Malou . By juxtaposing these films with the accepted theories on German culture, Linville offers a fresh appraisal not only of the films' importance but especially of their challenge to misogynist interpretations of the German failure to grieve for the horrors of its Nazi past.