Nostalgia after Nazism: History, Home, and Affect in German and Austrian Literature and Film

Nostalgia after Nazism: History, Home, and Affect in German and Austrian Literature and Film

Nostalgia after Nazism: History, Home, and Affect in German and Austrian Literature and Film

Nostalgia after Nazism: History, Home, and Affect in German and Austrian Literature and Film

Excerpt

The feature films of Tom Tyker, Germany's most "global" of filmmakers, end in tableaux of escape and departure. The figures fall or fly to a space beyond the entrapment of home and family. One falls from a window, another falls from a ski slope never to land, while yet others ascend into the sky in a helicopter that rises beyond the vision of the spectator and into the clouds. In The Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin; Germany, 2000), two figures linked by an indefinable love drive to a secluded house overlooking the sea, and the camera slowly recedes from the sublimely beautiful place so that the mood of escape is achieved dialectically. The figures arrive at a mythical home in a setting unlike anything they have seen before, and the spectator is treated to an ever widening view of the idyllic scene. These moments mark a break not only in the narrative trajectory and aesthetic style of the films, but also in the manner in which German film confronts history and affect. The final tableaux of Tykwer’s films follow upon narratives of entrapment often filmed in claustrophobic spaces. Maria, the heroine of Deadly Maria (Die tödliche Maria; Germany, 1993), lives in a domestic hell forced upon her by her tyrannical father and husband, while Sissi of The Princess and the Warrior lives and works in a mental institution that serves as her prison and family. The particular openness of the final moments of escape for these figures is unexpected and unprecedented in contemporary German film, and this openness engenders the shock of the New. Tykwer’s films stage a fantasy of escape from the spaces of home, family, and nation, spaces that define these films prior to the final scenes. Films such as The Princess and the Warrior point to a transitional moment in post-fascist German-language aesthetics in which a critique of the crimes of Nazism is combined with a global fantasy of an imagined home beyond nation. Tykwer’s films link Germany’s recent history, aesthetics, and affect in a manner emblematic of current tendencies in contemporary German-language literature and film. They engage Germany’s . . .
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