Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Rubble Films

Rubble Films: German Cinema In Shadow Of 3Rd Reich

Robert R. Shandley
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Rubble Films
    Book Description:

    At the end of World War II, Germany was a broken nation. Split in two and occupied by the victorious Allies, it would have to be rebuilt, literally, from the rubble of its own defeat. Volumes of books have been published chronicling its structural and economic rebirth; this unique study reveals how Germany rebuilt itself culturally.Rubble Filmsis a close look at German cinema in the immediate postwar era, and a careful examination of its relationship to Allied occupation. Shandley reveals how German film borrowed -- both literally and figuratively -- from its Nazi past, and how the occupied powers (specifically the US) used its position as victor to open Europe to Hollywood movie products and aesthetics.Incorporating a careful reading of several important postwar films, Shandley also discusses how the German studio system operated immediately after the war, in the east and the west, giving special focus on DEFA, the east German studio that rose during Soviet occupation.Pathbreaking in its research,Rubble Filmssheds new light on a significant moment of German cultural rebirth, and adds a new dimension to the study of the history of film.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-806-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The end of the World War II not only brought with it the destruction of a genocidal German nation state, it also signified the end of an entire people’s understanding of itself. So bitter was the defeat, so devastating the losses, so violent the reprisals, so one-sided the responsibility, so complete the stripping of the community’s ideals that there was very little upon which its members could call in order to organize the complex set of emotions, pathologies, and desires that accompanied the loss. “For the overwhelming majority of the population the entire system of coordinates that determined everyday life...

  5. 1 Dismantling the Dream Factory: The Film Industry in Berubbled Germany
    (pp. 9-24)

    Until the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich effective at midnight on May 8, 1945, Germany had one of the strongest, most productive film industries in the world. A cartel of studios, producers, and distributors freed the theaters from competition and provided them with an audience positively disposed to domestic films. The film industry was implicated in the National Socialist capture and maintenance of power, and it benefited immediately from the war effort, which gave German films unprecedented access to the cinema market all over Europe. The films filling the schedules of movie theaters throughout the continent were not only...

  6. 2 Coming Home through Rubble Canyons: The Murderers Are among Us and Generic Convention
    (pp. 25-46)

    The premiere of Wolfgang Staudte’sThe Murderers Are among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns)on October 16, 1946, was a cinematic event unlike any other in German film history. Not only was it the opening act of postwar German filmmaking and the first feature film of the newly founded DEFA, it was also a test of the medium. The cinema was rightfully subjected to the controlling gaze of the occupying forces in Germany, who were, at best, skeptical of Germans’ relationship to film. What stories Germans would seek to tell in film, and how they would go about doing...

  7. 3 Itʹs a Wonderful Reich: Private Innocence and Public Guilt
    (pp. 47-76)

    The blindnesses that the Mitscherlichs describe in their seminal book on the postwar German work of mourning can be found in much of the early postwar filmic discourse. The rubble films portray the Nazi past as, at best, one problem among many. Filmmakers often overlooked the horrific destruction their community had wrought upon the rest of the world and concentrated on the alienation of Germans from their own value structures and worldviews. The filmmakers’ refusal to alter their own worldview is visible quite literally in their failure to find new ways of seeing cinematically. As I discussed in the previous...

  8. 4 The Sword That Smote You: Jewish Filmmakers and the Visual Reconstruction of Jews in German Film
    (pp. 77-115)

    Upon release of his filmDavidin 1979, director Peter Lilienthal celebrated it as “the first German-Jewish film, that is, the first film to focus on the everyday life of the Jews during the Third Reich.”¹ Lilienthal’s remarks are misleading, but they bear witness to the difficulties such narratives have encountered in the face of Germany’s collective memory, which was often clouded, especially in the early postwar years, by everyday material concerns. In fact, depicting the fate of Jews during the Third Reich was rarely one of the most pressing matters on the German filmmaking agenda. One set of films...

  9. 5 The Trouble with Rubble: DEFA’s Social Problem Films
    (pp. 116-150)

    As we saw in the last chapter, DEFA leaders made a conscious effort to produce a series of films confronting the Nazi past and its historical foundations. However, the heads of the studio thought that the burden of recent German history was only one among many compelling problems that film should address. At the same time DEFA was producing the “Antifascist” films (the term the studio gave to those films that confronted the Nazi past), it also dedicated itself to makingZeitfilme, films set in postwar Germany that addressed the social problems of the day. Despite these intentions, The Murderers...

  10. 6 Comedic Redemption and the End of Rubble Film Discourse
    (pp. 151-180)

    And the Heavens Abovepremiered on December 9, 1947, two days beforeBetween Yesterday and Tomorrow. They were the first two films to appear in the American sector. Over a year earlier, Wolfgang Staudte’sThe Murderers Are among Uswas celebrated as the first postwar German film and Helmut Weiß premieredSag die Wahrheitas the first film in the western sectors.Between Yesterday and Tomorrowwas packed with old stars whom Eric Pommer drew to the rebuilt studios of Geiselgasteig near Munich. At least at the beginning of his two-year reign, Pommer represented a singular authority in an industry...

  11. Conclusion: The Vanishing Rubble Film in Postwar Historiography
    (pp. 181-192)

    Much of the energy of the New German Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s was powered by its angry critique of the previous generation. These young filmmakers complained that the film industry in the early sixties continued to be dominated by the same people who had staffed the Nazi Dream Factory. They charged that these older filmmakers, and the older generation as a whole, had failed to face up to their own complicity in the Nazi crimes. They then used this alleged failure on the part of their predecessors and parents as a rhetorical foil against which they posited their...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 193-204)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 205-210)
  14. Filmography
    (pp. 211-218)
  15. Index
    (pp. 219-224)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-225)