GER 394C • Introduction to German Film
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to German film studies. Its goals are threefold: to survey German filmmaking from the beginning to the present, to situate filmic texts in the context of German history and society, and to introduce the terms of film analysis and cultural critique that have defined German film studies in the past three decades. We will learn how to apply critical categories such as authorship, narrative, mise-en-scène, camerawork, sound, genre, and star system to the works of Lang, Staudte, Beyer, Fassbinder, Wenders, Akin and others. We will examine the most influential film forms and styles in the context of larger social movements, political developments, and cultural sensibilities. And we will discuss the socio-psychological function of films as the "daydreams of society" (Kracauer) and consider their contribution to the making of national identity, history, and heritage. Other issues to be addressed include the competing discourses of art cinema and popular cinema, the relationship to Hollywood and other European cinemas, the exchanges with other mass media and cultural practices, the precarious position of film between artwork and commodity, the role of politics in the development of a national film industry, and the contribution of feature films to the production of emotions, fantasies, and mentalities. The course will be taught in English, with all films shown with subtitles.
20% regular attendance, course preparation, and active participation 10% oral presentation (sequence analysis) 40% two reaction papers (10 pp. each) 30% final in-class two-hour exam (ID questions and essay questions)
For the historical overview: Sabine Hake, German National Cinema (London: Routledge, 2008), plus select book chapters and articles (as pdf files on Blackboard). Films to be discussed: Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (1920, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari), M (1931), Hitlerjunge Quex (1933, Hitler Youth Quex), La Habanera (1937), Die Mörder sind unter uns (1946, The Murderers Are Among Us), Die Halbstarken (1957, Teenage Wolfpack), Spur der Steine (1966/89, Trace of Stones), Die Legende von Paul und Paula (1973, The Legend of Paul and Paula), Ali, Angst essen Seele auf (Ali, Fear Eats the Soul, 1974), Die bleierne Zeit (1981, The German Sisters), Himmel über Berlin (1987, Wings of Desire), Run Lola Run (1998), Gegen die Wand (2004, Head-On).