Academic journal article Shofar

Between Two Worlds. the Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910-1933

Academic journal article Shofar

Between Two Worlds. the Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910-1933

Article excerpt

Between Two Worlds. The Jewish Presence in German and Austrian Film, 1910-1933, by S. S. Prawer. New York: Berghahn Books, 2005/2007. 228 pp. $25.00.

Prawer's impressively comprehensive book aims to show "some of the ways in which Jews participated in the manifold work needed to create a film: as producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, designers and actors - in harmony with non-Jewish colleagues amid a spattering of voices raised to discriminate between them" (p. viii). He successfully achieves his goal, while providing an excellent overview of popular genres of this period, such as the street film, the "sexual enlightenment" film, the Heimat film, and the mountain film, as well as particular types of comedies and musicals. Prawer also actively takes part in various debates that are central to scholarship on this period, such as his implicit critique of Siegfried Kracauer's argument that German film before 1933 documents the conditions that led to the rise of Hitler (p. viii), and his assertion that films containing "[a] mused or sorrowful contemplation of Jewish failings and imperfections should not be confused with self-hatred'" (p. 198).

In around 200 pages, Prawer accomplishes a great deal. The strengths of this volume include its in-depth sociohistorical background information on a great number of films, astute inter-filmic connections, and even some technical analysis. In his discussions of film titles, dialogues, and songs, the multhingual author lucidly explains the relevant nuances of German, Yiddish, and dialects that would be lost on most viewers of a subtitled version.

The book has neither footnotes nor endnotes, a feature that can be both refreshing and frustrating. Prawer is clearly informed about his subject matter, but a bibliography alone is not always enough for the reader's reference. …

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