Academic journal article German Quarterly

Straight Through the Heart: Doris Dörrie, German Filmmaker and Author

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Straight Through the Heart: Doris Dörrie, German Filmmaker and Author

Article excerpt

Birgel, Franz A., and Klaus Phillips, eds. Straight Through the Heart: Doris Dörrie, German Filmmaker and Author. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2004. 384pp. $70.00 doth.

More than ten years in the making, this collection of essays on the German filmmaker and writer Doris Dome is a welcome addition to German film studies in North America. Of the eighteen chapters in the book, nine are revised versions of papers given at the Sixth Hollins University Colloquium on German Film; eight of the chapters have been commissioned for the present volume since that original conference; its first chapter consists of an interview with Doris Dörrie by Klaus Phillips at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in July, 2000. This book is the first comprehensive introduction to the work of this German artist, with at least one essay on each of the eleven feature films Dörrie completed between 1983 and 2002, including two essays devoted to her career as a successful author as well.

Dörrie may well be the most successful German filmmaker active today. Why has her work been relatively neglected by scholars for so long? The ambivalence about Dörrie is one large topic with which some of the contributors to this volume wrestle; one notes it especially in the essays at the beginning of the volume, which deal with Dome's films in the 1980s. A filmmaker who became prominent as the New German Cinema was in decline in the early 1980s and whose first major commercial success, Manner (1985), was a comedy, Dörrie seemed to represent a new, more popular, accessible, and commercial German cinema that contrasted with the more critical, explicitly political and/or aesthetically challenging films by Kluge, Fassbinder, Wenders, and Herzog that we associate with the New German Cinema. Furthermore, she did not define herself as feminist or align herself with the women directors whom we might define (for all their differences) as the feminist wing of the New German Cinema : Helke Sander, Jutta Bruckner, Helma Sanders-Brahms, and Margarethe von Trotta.

Jennifer Taylor's essay on Männer reminds us of how controversial Dörrie appeared to a generation of scholars influenced by New German Cinema and/or its feminist wing. Taylor does a fine job of describing the historical context in which Dörrie emerged: it was the era of Reagan and Kohl, and not only the New German Cinema but the entire legacy of 1968 seemed to be passé. …

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