Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Films

Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Films

Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Films

Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Films

Synopsis

Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Film merges feminist film theory and cultural history in an investigation of "women's films" that span the last two decades of the former East Germany. Jennifer L. Creech explores the ways in which these films functioned as an alternative public sphere where official ideologies of socialist progress and utopian collectivism could be resisted. Emerging after the infamous cultural freeze of 1965, these women's films reveal a shift from overt political critique to a covert politics located in the intimate, problem-rich experiences of everyday life under socialism. Through an analysis of films that focus on what were perceived as "women's concerns"--marital problems, motherhood, emancipation, and residual patriarchy--Creech argues that the female protagonist served as a crystallization of socialist contradictions. By framing their politics in terms of women's concerns, these films used women's desire and agency to contest the more general problems of social alienation and collectivism, and to re-imagine the possibilities of self-fulfillment under socialism.

Excerpt

In the opening sequence of Egon Günther’s 1972 film, Der Dritte [Her Third], the viewer watches the female protagonist, Margit, at work as a mathematician in a computer engineering lab. Overlaid with a blue filter, the camera captures the lab and the engineers—equal numbers of men and women—in medium shots, in discussion while working with the computers that fill the room. in voice-over, we hear the film’s director, Günther, asking the lab’s director about specifics regarding job skill differences, wages, and gender parity. the camera then cuts to medium shots of Margit and her colleagues leaving the lab, taking the streetcar, and walking home.

Arriving at home, Margit enters her dark apartment, turning on lights that reveal its emptiness, occasionally turning toward the camera in medium close-up, baring a face that looks tired, beat. She is alone. She turns on the television and returns to the kitchen to make a solitary meal, but the dialogue from the television piques both her and the viewer’s interest. We see her peer around the kitchen doorway to get a closer look at the man and woman on screen. the camera cuts to the screenwithin-the-screen: we—the diegetic and extra-diegetic viewers—see a Russian captain standing on the forest floor, looking up at his younger female compatriot, an army nurse, teasing her, suggesting she is afraid to walk along the narrow trunk of the fallen tree on which she stands. a high-angle close-up emphasizes his desiring gaze as he exclaims . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.