The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

was made artistic director. Old projects were resurrected and new ones developed in contravention of long-standing taboos. The Film Ministry even agreed late in 1989 to the formation of an independent film-production group outside DEFA -- the DaDaeR group, which took its name from its first completed film, Jörg Foth's Letztes aus der DaDaeR (' Latest news from the GeeDeeaR').

So, when at the end of 1989 the old Communist leadership was ousted and the Wall came down, DEFA had ready for release some critical films which mirrored the new political realities. But the audience was gone: they had either driven away to the west in their Trabis, or had simply lost interest in anything concerning the old regime.


Bibliography

Behn, Manfred, and Bock, Hans-Michael (eds.) ( 1988-9), Film und Gesellschaft in der DDR.

Jacobsen, Wolfgang (ed.) ( 1992), Babelsberg: ein Filmstudio.

Rülicke-Weiler, Käthe (ed.) ( 1979), Film- und Fernsehkunst der DDR: Traditionen, Beispiele, Tendenzen.

Schenk, Rolf (ed.) ( 1994), Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg.


Changing States in East Central Europe

MAREK HENDRYKOWSKI

The post-war cinema in east central Europe follows a chronology quite different from that of its western counterparts. Its main stages are signposted by a series of caesuras: 1945, 1948-9, 1956, 1968, 1970, 1980-1, 1989, each of which is connected with crucial political events in the eastern bloc and points to the major influence of politics and ideology on its development.

While 1945 itself marks the liberation of eastern and central Europe from German occupation, 1948-9 marks the negative side of that liberation. For it was then, with 'satellite' regimes established throughout the region (with the partial exception of Yugoslavia), that the Socialist Realist doctrine imported from the USSR was forcibly imposed on the cinemas of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and other countries under Communist rule. The year 1956 is then a major landmark for Poland and Hungary in particular, signalling the beginning of the slow but irreversible process of de-Stalinization; 1968 brought the 'Prague Spring', followed in August of that year by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia which cruelly wrote off the achievements of the Czech and Slovak 'New Wave'. In Poland (though not in other eastern bloc countries) 1970 in turn proved to be a political turningpoint, as did August 1980, with the birth of the Solidarity movement, and December 1981, with the introduction of martial law. Finally, in 1989 the fall of the Communist system was of paramount importance everywhere, though in Yugoslavia it signified the pending collapse of the federal state and the subsequent catastrophe of civil war.

This periodization, and the political factors that determined it, is a specific feature of post-war east central European cinema, and it is hardly surprising that for several decades cinema critics and historians were chiefly interested in the 'political' (i.e. 'anti-regime') film, and aesthetic criteria often took second place to political. Now that the old political contexts have lost their immediacy and relevance, artistic criteria can once again reassert themselves, making it possible to re-evaluate such masterpieces as Andrzej Wajda's war tetralogy A Generation, Canal, Ashes and Diamonds, and Lotna in the 1950s, Miloš Forman 's triptych Peter and Pavla, A Blonde in Love, and The Firemen's Ball in the 1960s, and Márta Mészáros's three- part 'Diary' -- Diary for my Children, Diary for my Loves, and Diary for my Father and my Mother in the 1980s.


EVASIVE STRATEGIES

Political circumstances, and film-makers' responses to them, led east central European cinemas in the post-war period to adopt a number of distinct strategies, which can be summarized as follows:

Historicism

In the Hungarian and Polish cinema, and to a lesser extent the Czech, there is often an obsessive interest in national history seen through the prism of an evil fate and the notion of an irreversible catastrophe by which both individuals and entire communities are foredoomed. Over the years strategies have evolved for overcoming this fatalism through ironic distance and black humour, often highly suggestive, as in the films of Andrzej Munk ( Eroica, 1957; Bad Luck, 1959), Vojtěch Jasný ( September Nights, 1957; All my Good Countrymen, 1968), Jiří Menzel ( Closely Observed Trains, 1966; Cutting It Short, 1981), and Péter Bacsó ( The Witness, 1968; Oh, Bloody Life, 1983). In these films history remains crucial, but it is framed in the categories of tragicomedy, which triggers off a process of collective therapy in the form of often bitter, cathartic laughter.

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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • CinÉma-VÉritÉ and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823
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