Volker Schlondorff's Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and the "Movie-Appropriate"

By Hans-Bernhard Moeller; George Lellis | Go to book overview

14
A German
Consciousness for an
International Audience

With the production of The Tin Drum (1978–79), Volker Schlöndorff moved into a new phase of his career, a third period in his work that we call his international period. This period comprised two other major features, Circle of Deceit (1981) and Swann in Love (1983), as well as documentaries and contributions to omnibus films. Schlöndorff's feature work during this period grew out of far more international production structures than before, was somewhat more stylistically conservative than much of the preceding efforts, and involved a move away from the earlier films' feminism and confrontational activism. Although the three features still have critical elements to them, much of Schlöndorff's oppositional energy shifted to the small-scale, less mainstream films. With this period, Schlöndorff began to work increasingly for the opera, and although we do not examine in depth the director's output in live theater and opera, we consider it in the context of his film production.

Schlöndorff's new international status had much to do with both the more restrictive film production situation beginning to unfold within the Federal Republic and the positive reputation of the New German Cinema by the end of the 1970s. We have discussed earlier the dependency on state and public television funding that the New German Cinema had developed. With the emergence of a more conservative political climate in the wake of the fall 1977 climax to the terrorist crisis, institutional subsidy of alternative filmmaking became far less reliable. Of equal or even greater importance was the near desperate situation of German film exhibitors. The number of filmgoers in West Germany had steadily declined from 320 million persons in 1965 to 128 million in 1975 and to 104 million in 1985. “The hardest hit were Germany's small movie entrepreneurs

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