Academic journal article German Quarterly

Rubble Films: German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Rubble Films: German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich

Article excerpt

Shandley, Robert IL Rubble Films: German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001. 223 pp. $18.95 paperback.

This well-written, thoroughly researched text focuses on the rubble film, a set of films made in Germany between 1946 and 1949 which "take the mise en scene of destroyed Germany as a background and metaphor of the destruction of Germans' own sense of themselves"(2). Shandley's approach to the rubble film treats social, psychological, and historiographic issues. He argues convincingly that these films, produced so soon after the fall of the Third Reich, have contributed significantly to construction of the postwar German "collective memory" of the Nazi past.

Rubble Films begins with a detailed introduction to the German film industry of the postwar period and a discussion of attempts during this time to relegitimate the film medium in Germany after its exploitation for propaganda purposes under Goebbels. General discussion of the rubble film is interspersed with critical readings of 17 specific films, including Die Murder sind enter uns (Staudte 1946), In jenen Tagen (KAutner 1947), Die Affare Blum (Engel 1948), and Liebe '47 (Liebeneiner 1949). Shandley has organized his text into chapters on different thematic groupings of these films. His readings frequently offer a reassessment of the findings of previous scholarship or provide refreshing new insights into the films, and he relies on a range of approaches from gender and genre studies to analysis of film aesthetics in his treatments of the films. Shandley's review of relevant secondary literature provides a valuable resource for film scholars, particularly for some of the lesser known films included in this study.

A whole chapter is devoted to Die Murder sind enter uns, in which Shandley points to the film's appropriation of features of the western film genre. The following chapter focuses on rubble films which situate political issues of confronting the Nazi past in the private or domestic realm. Subsequent chapters outline the treatment by Jewish filmmakers of Nazi persecution of Jews, the development of ideological guidelines in early DEFA films, and the contribution of comedies, including parodies of the rubble film, to the end of production for the rubble film in 1949.

Shandley convincingly challenges several common assumptions about the rubble film. …

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