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Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

1998
Author:

John E. Davidson

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

The first book to consider New German Cinema in the context of postcolonialism.

Between 1961 and 1989, the New German Cinema came into being, the product of the diverse efforts of West German politicians, West German filmmakers, and foreign—chiefly American—film enthusiasts. This book takes the story of the New German Cinema beyond its strictly German context to show its relation to the international constellations of the Cold War and postcolonial politics.

In its resolute challenge to our received ways of thinking about the New German Cinema, this is a provocative book indeed. Davidson makes a unique and incontrovertibly fresh contribution, which takes the study of German film after Oberhaussen beyond the limited ‘territorial’ alternatives of ‘World’ or ‘National’ Cinema.

Michigan Germanic Studies

Between 1961 and 1989, the years of the building and dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the New German Cinema came into being, the product of the diverse efforts of West German politicians, West German filmmakers, and foreign—chiefly American—film enthusiasts. This book takes the story of the New German Cinema beyond its strictly German context to show its relation to the international constellations of the Cold War and postcolonial politics.

After a reevaluation of the political and aesthetic atmosphere of the 1950s and 1960s, John E. Davidson looks at the ways in which conceptions of “the German” are deployed in important works through the two generations that followed. By analyzing key tropes in successful films, as well as in the receptions they received abroad, he takes us past the boundaries of what have been considered the appropriate or even essential concerns of German film. His book is the first to examine the legitimization function of German national cinema not just in relation to the German history associated with World War II and the Holocaust, but also within the shifting configuration of neocolonialism. Here we see how the struggle for colonial independence necessitated a reconsolidation of the imaginary community of “the West,” and how the creation of a new German national cinema served this purpose.

Davidson uncovers new material regarding the German government’s debates about film as a means of solidifying the country’s position among the Western powers in neocolonial competition. This in turn leads to a reconsideration of the role of the “German” in that relegitimation, particularly in relation to the “critical intellectual.” Davidson then grounds these insights in extensive analyses of key films of the New German Cinema in light of the receptions they received—from Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas to Percy Adlon’s Out of Rosenheim and Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia.

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

John E. Davidson is assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures at Ohio State University.

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

In its resolute challenge to our received ways of thinking about the New German Cinema, this is a provocative book indeed. Davidson makes a unique and incontrovertibly fresh contribution, which takes the study of German film after Oberhaussen beyond the limited ‘territorial’ alternatives of ‘World’ or ‘National’ Cinema.

Michigan Germanic Studies

Davidson’s ambitious book is a sustained and detailed inquiry into how a national cinema can be made to serve the purpose of cultural legitimization. Raising original and politically highly relevant questions. It convincingly argues the significance of considering individual films and their self-styled genius-creators within a larger framework of the national, international, and transnational. The book’s forte is its ability to engage contemporary cultural theory in productive new ways. Deterritorializing the New German Cinema impresses through its conceptual originality and boldness. It does force us to reconsider the role of (New German) cinema within discourses of nation building and cultural legitimation, and to look more critically at a part of German film history that too often has been memorialized as a second ‘Golden Era’.

Monatshefte

Deterritorializing the New German Cinema

Contents

Preface

Introduction

Conceiving, Producing, and Remembering the New German Cinema

Resettling the West Of Familial Spats and Spots, and the end of the Road Movie

Railing against Convention, or Camping Out in Mongolia The Performative Displacements of Uirike Ottinger's Johanna D'Arc Mongolia

Epilogue
Beyond the New German Cinema?
Notes
Index