The Cinema's Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933

The Cinema's Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933

The Cinema's Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933

The Cinema's Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933


The Cinema's Third Machine reproduces the diversity of perspectives and the intensity of controversies of early German film within the broad context of German social and political history. "Smart and superbly researched."_Choice.


Discourse about the cinema is... its third machine: after the one that manufactures the films, and the one that consumes them, the one that vaunts them, that valorises the product--CHRISTIAN metz, The Imaginary Signifier

Every time a new cultural practice emerges, the established systems of thought are put into question, and, for a short moment, critical paradigms are open to reexamination and renegotiation. in such a situation, critics have the chance to explore new avenues of thought and address issues that otherwise have no place in the everyday business of writing. They can explore issues relevant to culture and society at large, or they can seek insights into established cultural practices, including their own participation in those practices. They can use the confrontation with the New and the Other to strengthen their positions in the public sphere--for instance by appropriating or altering characteristics of the New--or they can turn a medium's Otherness into a means through which to affect more radical changes in the critical paradigms.

Early German writings on film assumed precisely such a metadiscursive function: they were at once about film and about its effect on critical discourse; they simultaneously addressed questions of representation and interpretation; and they dealt with both the institutionalization of cinema and the institution of criticism. the emergent discourses defined their function in relation to cinema, which had occasioned their appearance on the scene of writing, and the bourgeois public sphere, of which they either were, or tried to become, a part.

One of the first goals of early critics was to assign a name to and thereby identify what was alternately perceived as a new technology, a new industry, and a new form of mass entertainment. By receiving a name, the new medium would take its proper place among the arts and sciences, and the writers and critics would be the ones in charge of attributing and distributing meanings. During the last four years of the Wilhelmine Empire a surprising number of names were in circulation, among which Kino (cin-

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