In surveying Volker Schlöndorff's development as a filmmaker, one can note how he merges two major traditions—one French, one German. If his chronologically more immediate model is the French cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the works' basic aesthetic heritage is the German cinema of the Weimar period and its extension in exile.
If one were sketching out a transnational cinema history, one might easily describe the New German Cinema as an offshoot of the French New Wave. In 1962, in the city of Oberhausen, the Young German cinema proclaimed its goals in a public document known as the Oberhausen Manifesto. In some ways, this document presents the new German generation's positive reaction to the success that their French contemporaries—François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, JeanLuc Godard, and Claude Chabrol—had in redefining their national cinema. The young Germans saw the French as a model for a cinema that would reject the confining subjects, styles, and economic structures of Opas Kino, to use the term of derision of that younger generation for “granddaddy's cinema. ” Both the young French filmmakers and their German counterparts wanted to propose something new and vigorous.
One would expect Schlöndorff's cinema to reinforce this general pattern. After all, the filmmaker lived in Paris from 1956 to 1964, precisely the years in which the New Wave renewed the French cinema. He received his baccalauréat from the Lycée Henri V. As part of his high school experience at a French boarding school, he became friends with his classmate Bertrand Tavernier, who himself was to develop into a major figure in the French cinema. Schlöndorff then pursued studies in economics and political science before being accepted into