Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

Synopsis

"This book takes the story of the New German Cinema beyond its strictly German context to show its relation to the international constellations of the Cold War and postcolonial politics. After a reevaluation of the political and aesthetic atmosphere of the 1950s and 1960s. John E. Davidson looks at the ways in which conceptions of "the German" are deployed in important works through the two generations that followed." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This volume is a project that has been long in the making and for which I have two aspirations. the first is that it be one of the most thorough and illuminating books built around close readings of individual films produced in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1962 and 1989, setting them in the context of their production and reception. I begin with a reexamination of the concrete historical situation out of which the initial movement toward this new cinema arose, looking particularly to political debates as a means of judging why the “sudden” rebirth of German film culture evoked the kind of response it did, and what that meant in terms of the rehabilitation of West German cinema, and West Germany, after World War II in an international framework. Concentrating my close readings primarily on works from the 1980s, beginning after the period of the socalled Young Geniuses, I analyze the continuities in the New German Cinema after the point at which many were declaring it dead and explore the way certain key texts pick up and change the elements that had become the expected mainstay of the “renewed” German national cinema. As a result, a whole host of aesthetically and politically hard-core filmmakers on the one hand, and the commercial productions popular only at home on the other, receive little or no attention here. Thus, it is also my hope that this book will be one of the last works of this kind, offering a critique of our invisible investments in particular modes of representation convincing enough to make such a narrow conception of German cinema harder to maintain, so that more attention will be paid to other kinds of projects.

Of the many objections that may arise in response to this book, two will likely result directly from choices I have made that need a brief word of explanation in advance. First, to some it may seem that I have reproduced one of the problems I want to point out in this critique: a myopic search for “the German” in the films of the New German Cinema. It is true that I want to uncover the relentless concern with German identity that becomes the central point of reference for the different players in the renewal of an internationally accepted cinema in West Germany, and to do so I have consciously chosen to focus on conceptions (or strategic uses) of Germanness. I want to dislodge the essentialized and/or calcified assumptions about these representations, not because they are unfair to Ger-

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