The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood

The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood

The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood

The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood

Synopsis

"Lutz Koepnick's "The Dark Mirror provides one of the finest, most compelling and suggestive accounts to date of the multiple locations of German cinema between Hitler and Hollywood. Charting the shifting relationships between institutional contexts and individual acts of reception, Koepnick persuasively shows how the German cinema and its filmmakers--both in exile and in Nazi Germany--contributed to a fragile, stratified, indeed, "nonsynchronous" public sphere."--Patrice Petro, author of "Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History

"Lutz Koepnick's brilliant study debunks the received wisdom concerning Nazi German and Hollywood film of the 1930s and 40s. Using detailed analyses of 8 films, with special focus on sound and music, he insists upon the disjointed contexts and uneven relationships of American and German filmmaking. Historically nuanced and theoretically savvy, this remarkable book offers something for everyone: Americanists, Germanists, historians, students of cinema sound and music, those interested in debates between art and popular forms, and European and Hollywood production."--Caryl Flinn, author of "Strains of Utopia

Excerpt

This book traces the origin of what I understand—with full awareness of the term's evocative and ambiguous history—as the Sonderweg (special path) of German popular cinema. in a series of typological readings, The Dark Mirror first investigates how Nazi entertainment features during the 1930s aspired to bring Hollywood to the Third Reich and then how Hitler refugees attuned German cultural material after 1939 to the demands of the Hollywood studio system. Throughout the following pages my principal interest is in the ways that German film practitioners, whether in Berlin or Hollywood, negotiated different cultural codes and encouraged their audiences to identify themselves as others. in all eight case studies we witness German directors, film stars, and film composers inviting their viewers to cross spatial and cultural boundaries. Yet rather than leveling crucial differences between Nazi film culture and the exiles' Hollywood, this study argues that German cinema during the Hitler era split into incompatible and nonsynchronous parts. To put it simply, whereas in Nazi society cinematic pleasures served the purpose of domination and hierarchical segregation, the exile filmmakers of this book hoped to sustain notions of modern culture as a source of emancipation and multiplicity. Poised between Hitler and Hollywood, the golden age of German cinema, I suggest, owed its existence to a process of division, displacement, and doubling that cannot be reintegrated into any kind of unified national narrative.

By investigating the course of German film from the 1930s to the 1950s, this book contributes to current debates about the role of national cinemas as sites of cultural difference and particularity. Until very recently, to write about national cinemas meant to support semi- or noncommercial film practice, to commend the critique or subversion of mainstream conventions, to privilege auteurism over popular filmmaking. German cinema always played . . .

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