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German Film after Germany

German Film after Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    German Film after Germany
    Book Description:

    What is the work of film in the age of transnational production? To answer that question, Randall Halle focuses on the film industry of Germany, one of Europe's largest film markets and one of the world's largest film-producing nations. In the 1990s Germany experienced an extreme transition from a state-subsidized mode of film production that was free of anxious concerns about profit and audience entertainment to a mode dominated by private interest and big capital. At the same time, the European Union began actively drawing together the national markets of Germany and other European nations, sublating their individual significances into a synergistic whole. This book studies these changes broadly, but also focuses on the transformations in their particular national context. It balances film politics and film aesthetics, tracing transformations in financing along with analyses of particular films to describe the effects on the film object itself. Halle concludes that we witness currently the emergence of a new transnational aesthetic, a fundamental shift in cultural production with ramifications for communal identifications, state cohesion, and national economies.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09144-5
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Work of Film in the Age of Transnational Production
    (pp. 1-12)

    When Walter Benjamin discussed the effects of mechanical reproduction on the work of art, he identified a transformation in aesthetic production that resulted from a technological innovation. This technological innovation, reproducibility, belonged to the era of industrialization and in particular to what was then the relatively new medium of film. Benjamin recognized the presence of an art form, cinema, which belonged entirely to the industrial era, and this art form opened up new possibilities of representation and political action. Like Benjamin, we can similarly observe large-scale shifts in the form of production today. To be sure, there are new technological...

  6. 1 Apprehending Transnationalism
    (pp. 13-29)

    The terms “globalization,” “transnationalism,” or “free market” have currently an interesting quality in that they elicit advocates and detractors throughout the political spectrum. There are a limited number of terms that can create such rifts. In political debates in parliaments and on the streets we find odd configurations of socialists and conservatives uniting against libertarians and anarchists, communists and republicans casting votes against free markets, while social democrats advocate the dismantling of state regulation. We witness the emergence of a new discourse that realigns our geopolitical negotiations, as once did the Cold War.

    To shape our critical approaches vis-à-vis globalization,...

  7. 2 German Film, Aufgehoben: Ensembles of Transnational Cinema
    (pp. 30-59)

    In the 1990s, the politics and financing of the big screen came under increasing scrutiny; the national subsidy systems particularly came under attack by free-market advocates, unleashing still unresolved debates in the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As with the broadcast sector of the audiovisual industry, national film production urgently needed to confront the need to open up to new market structures and become economically viable. Thus, in Germany in the mid-1990s, when the minister of the interior strongly stated as quoted earlier, “Film is the expression of the cultural identity of a country vis-à-vis its own citizens...

  8. 3 The Transnational Aesthetic: Volker Schlöndorff, Studio Babelsberg, and Vivendi Universal
    (pp. 60-88)

    The FrenchCompagnie Générale des Eaux(CGE) began operations in 1853 selling water, but even at that time it had amondialvision, selling to sites including Paris and Constantinople.CGEmerged in the 1980s with HAVAS Media Group, a French media and publishing corporation, thereby acquiring control of the French private television company CANAL+. During the 1990s it engaged in a series of further mergers. When in 1996 the dynamic Jean-Marie Messier took control of the company, he accelerated its expansion so much so that a 2003 biography of Messier bears the titleThe Man Who Tried to Buy...

  9. 4 The Historical Genre and the Transnational Aesthetic
    (pp. 89-128)

    If in the preceding chapter I argued that the transnational aesthetic is not the property of a single genre, I would offer a corrective at this point: particular genres do engage the transnational imaginary more intensely at particular times. The historical genre presents a special form of narration that harbors many of the complexities attendant to the rather fraught nature of European transnationalism. That the process of European union is fraught should present no surprise. It is not just material circumstances in the present—stagnating economies, conflicting banking practices, differing visions of environmentalism, pressures from outsourcing and downsizing to the...

  10. 5 Inhabitant, Exhabitant, Cohabitant: Filming Migrants and the Borders of Europe
    (pp. 129-168)

    A scene begins in a darkly lit prison cell. In the far-left corner, where the camera is focused, a man urinates while talking to someone in the room off frame. He leaves the corner and the camera pans right, following him, mapping out more of the room. As the frame travels right, a body stretched out on a prison cot comes to occupy the foreground, his inactivity contrasting with the first prisoner’s movement. The first prisoner, now in the background, goes over to a bed in the far right corner, where yet a third prisoner is, the man with whom...

  11. 6 Transfrontier Broadcasting, Transnational Civil Society
    (pp. 169-192)

    The relationship between film and television started as a fraught one. The introduction of television in the 1950s and the rapid expansion of audience appeal through the 1960s destabilized national film industries everywhere. The small screen drew spectators at the expense of the big screen. At the same time, television programmers quickly realized that feature films represented a significant broadcasting resource. Television simply did not have the means to produce the kind of grand visual stories that filled the movie theaters. For their part, film producers came to realize that the secondary market of the small screen would actually offer...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 193-218)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-228)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 229-236)
  15. Film Index
    (pp. 237-240)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-244)