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When Heimat Meets Hollywood

When Heimat Meets Hollywood: German Filmmakers and America, 1985-2005

Christine Haase
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 235
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  • Book Info
    When Heimat Meets Hollywood
    Book Description:

    The film histories of Germany and the United States have long been seen as intertwined, but scholarship has focused on émigré works of the 1930s and 1940s, on links between Weimar film and American film noir, and on the conflicted relationship between directors of the New German Cinema and Hollywood. Recently, German film studies has begun reexamining the interconnection of the two film cultures and focusing on the internationalism of German cinema, but little research has been done on contemporary German directors' involvement in American cinema, a gap in scholarship that this book fills. The study offers ways of understanding current German cinematic engagement with America and different directorial responses to the hegemonic pressures of Hollywood. It delineates the historical trajectory of German-American film relations in the 20th century, then analyzes the careers and works of four German-born directors who have significant ties with American cinema: Wolfgang Petersen, Roland Emmerich, Percy Adlon, and Tom Tykwer. A series of close readings of their productions isolates the cinematic practices and strategies with which these filmmakers negotiate the different national cultural and cinematic paradigms they traverse. The book analyzes constructions of national cultural identity, probes the boundaries of national cinemas, and expands our understanding of emerging hybrid film cultures. It is a contribution to German film studies and to the emerging field of transnational film studies. Christine Haase is Associate Professor of German at the University of Georgia.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-689-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    C. H.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    From its inception in the nineteenth century, film has been a medium with transcultural and transnational appeal. The history of the cinema has always been a story of complex connections and collaborations between different national and cultural traditions as well as between people of different countries, ethnicities, genders, religions, and classes. Before the advent of synchronized sound, film — resting on the notion of images as a form of visual lingua franca — could cross borders with relative ease, requiring only the translation and substitution of intertitles. With the development of sound, this transnational aspect of motion pictures became more...

  5. 1: German and American Film Relations in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 14-62)

    The connections between German and American cinema reach back to the beginnings of the industry. Early political, economic, and cultural dynamics prefigure in various ways the competition and collaboration between American and German film throughout the twentieth century. To situate and contextualize the analyses of the directors discussed in this study, their approaches toward filmmaking, and their works, this chapter will provide an introductory outline of the complex history of film in Germany in view of its Hollywood influences and interrelations. The objective here is not to produce a streamlined and unified version of this bi-national narrative into which the...

  6. 2: Wolfgang Petersen: Blockbuster Auteur?
    (pp. 63-100)

    According to his authorized biography, in the late 1940s, when he was still in elementary school, Wolfgang Petersen began devouring multiple films per week at the local cinema.¹ At age eleven, he decided that he wanted to spend his life making movies, which to him, due to his love of westerns, seemed like a quintessentially American art form. He asked for a Super-8 camera for his twelfth birthday; the wish was granted and he began to shoot his own films. Initially, he was fascinated by productions such asHigh Noon(Fred Zinnemann, 1952) and the works of John Ford, whose...

  7. 3: “Foil, Toothpaste, ID4”: Ideology and Global Appeal in the Films of Roland Emmerich
    (pp. 101-133)

    Roland Emmerich, like Wolfgang Petersen, is one of the world’s most commercially successful directors, dealing primarily in high-concept movies. Since his U.S. debut in 1992, his works (a total of six films as of 2005) have grossed about $2.235 billion globally:Universal Soldier(1992),Stargate(1994),Independence Day(1996),Godzilla(1998),The Patriot(2000), andThe Day after Tomorrow(2004). In 2005,Independence Daywas thirteenth on the list of the all-time top money makers worldwide with box-office earnings of almost $900 million,The Day after Tomorrowwas thirty-sixth with around $528 million.¹

    Emmerich is also, like Petersen, one of...

  8. 4: Crossing Boundaries, Connecting People: The German-American Films of Percy Adlon
    (pp. 134-161)

    Of the directors discussed in this study, Percy Adlon is the one most closely associated with independent and less profit-oriented filmmaking. Yet, despite his rather prolific career and the critical recognition of his often intriguing and innovative approaches to filmmaking, the director has not received much scholarly attention.¹ This may be due to the fact that Adlon’s feature films tend to fall through paradigmatic and national cracks, as many of them are German-American hybrids. Therefore, they do not easily fit into either national mode of film criticism and scholarship.

    Adlon’s works are diametrically opposed to those of Roland Emmerich, yet,...

  9. 5: “Bambi, Zombie, Gandhi”: The Cinema of Tom Tykwer
    (pp. 162-196)

    Tom Tykwer is one of the nationally and internationally most prominent and successful German directors to have emerged from the country since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The multitalented composer, musician, producer, writer, and director burst onto the international film scene in 1998 with the independent hitLola rennt(Run Lola Run).¹ The movie was an instant success with critics and audiences around the globe, a surprising achievement for a young German director who, up to that point, had made just two feature films,Die tödliche Maria(Deadly Maria, 1993) andWinterschläfer(Winter Sleepers, 1997).

    Lola rennt...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-204)

    German films exist in a sphere of two overlapping force fields: on the one hand, they are commonly made, defined, and read as part of a national cinema; on the other hand, they increasingly transgress national boundaries due to intensifying globalization and dissolving cultural and economic borders. The sea changes associated with the revolution in Information Technology and the fast flow of capital and culture between nations and through cyberspace require us to reassess our ideas of the local and the global. This deterritorialization and dislocation brought on by globalization and the accompanying internationalization of the movie industry create considerable...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 205-218)
  12. Index
    (pp. 219-226)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-227)