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Framing the past : the historiography of German cinema and television /

Other Authors: Murray, Bruce Arthur., Wickham, Chris, 1950-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, 1992
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Review by Choice Review

Both of these books focus on the representation of the Nazi past in German films since WW II and the historiography of German cinema from its beginnings. Building on the important works by Anton Kaes (From Hitler to Heimat, CH, Jan'90) and Eric Santner (Stranded Objects, CH, Oct'90), the Reimers discuss a large number of films that treat the criminal Nazi period and its repercussions in the postwar era. Organized topically rather than chronologically, the book's separate chapters consider films devoted to such subjects as the ^D" and the ^D" The authors dramatically widen the purview of previous studies by mentioning dozens of unseen or unappreciated films and made-for-TV movies which constitute what they call the ^D" genre. The broad scope comes at a price: little more than the films' plots and a few isolated remarks on style are presented. The economic or cultural circumstances in which individual films were made and received are not probed, and there is disappointingly little discussion of the filmmakers' motives in making them. The Reimers' postulation of a specific dynamic of spectatorial response, based on what they term ^D" and ^D" seems much too general and quickly becomes an alternately murky and banal formula applied to comic, tragic, and documentary works alike. The filmography and the appendixes listing many other titles still to be explored, however, will prove very helpful to future researchers. The same can be said about Michael Geisler's contribution to Framing the Past in which he discusses the treatment of Nazism and the Holocaust on German television. Geisler has broken significant new ground by showing how often and in what manner these difficult subjects were presented to the German television public long before the explosive broadcasting of the American-made series Holocaust in 1979. Similarly pathbreaking essays devoted to Nazi television (William Uricchio), to Weimar film topics and national identity (Thomas Saunders, Sabine Hake, Marc Silberman, and J.-C. Horak), and to themes in GDR cinema (Barton Byg) make up the bulk of this fine addition to the scholarly literature, ably introduced by Bruce Murray. Originally presented at a conference in late 1988, the papers, written from a wide variety of critical perspectives and largely free of the jargon that mars so much contemporary writing on cinema, have been substantially revised and amplified, with many useful bibliographic references in the footnotes. S. Liebman Queens College, CUNY

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.