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Homemade Men in Postwar Austrian Cinema

Homemade Men in Postwar Austrian Cinema: Nationhood, Genre and Masculinity

Maria Fritsche
Series: Film Europa
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Homemade Men in Postwar Austrian Cinema
    Book Description:

    Despite the massive influx of Hollywood movies and films from other European countries after World War II, Austrian film continued to be hugely popular with Austrian and German audiences. By examining the decisive role that popular cinema played in the turbulent post-war era, this book provides unique insights into the reconstruction of a disrupted society. Through detailed analysis of the stylistic patterns, narratives and major themes of four popular genres of the time, costume film, Heimatfilm, tourist film and comedy, the book explains how popular cinema helped to shape national identity, smoothed conflicted gender relations and relieved the Austrians from the burden of the Nazi past through celebrating the harmonious, charming, musical Austrian man.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-946-6
    Subjects: Film Studies, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In the Austrian costume comedyDie Deutschmeister(The Deutschmeister, 1955), a case of mistaken identity leaves the slightly quirky Baron Zorndorf, played by comedian Gunter Philipp, accidentally engaged to Countess Nanette. The night before, Zorndorf has fallen for the naïve charm of country girl Constanze Hübner (Romy Schneider) at a masquerade. Mistaking her for the offspring of wealthy Countess Burgstetten, he comes the next morning to ask for her hand in marriage. To his dismay he finds out that Burgstetten’s daughter, Nanette (Susi Nicoletti), is not the same girl that he met the night before. Yet Countess Burgstetten, delighted at...

  6. Chapter 1 Popular Cinema and Society
    (pp. 21-58)

    In January 1946, eight months after Nazi Germany’s downfall, the shooting of the first Austrian postwar film began. The film’s serious title,Glaube an mich(Believe in Me), a plea to put trust in the future of Austria, contrasted with its content.Glaube an michwas directed by the Austrian-Hungarian revue specialist Géza von Cziffra, and was a light-hearted winter sports comedy (see Chapter Four for more details) that had little to say about the immediate Nazi past, the war or the deprivations from which people were still suffering. Traditional in choice of theme as well as aesthetic style, it...

  7. Chapter 2 The Historical Costume Film
    (pp. 59-99)

    Sissi(1955), the tragic story of the Bavarian princess Elisabeth/‘Sissi’, who falls in love with the young Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I and marries him, still tops the league of the most successful productions in postwar Austria.¹ It is a classic that, through frequent television screenings, has acquired a cult following across continental Europe. WhileSissiis one of the few Austrian films known outside German-speaking countries today, it was only one of many historical costume films that were hugely profitable at the time. Why was the genre so successful? Was it because it offered an escape to a fairy-tale...

  8. Chapter 3 Heimatfilm
    (pp. 100-133)

    The unexpected success of the West German filmSchwarzwaldmädel(Black Forest Girl), which premiered in 1950, sparked a veritableHeimatfilmboom in Austria and West Germany.¹ Although they were often directed heavy-handedly,Heimatfilmsfrequently outdid glamorous Hollywood productions at the box office.² The genre’s appeal was broad. One of its main selling points was certainly its visual imagery – the showcasing of nature at its most beautiful and pristine provided escape for the audience; the landscape, unspoilt by war or modernity, conveyed a sense of ‘timelessness’, offered security and, furthermore, promised a newHeimatto the millions of displaced persons.³ The...

  9. Chapter 4 Tourist Film
    (pp. 134-165)

    Tourist film has a long tradition in Austrian cinema. The film adaptation of the musicalIm Weissen Rössl(The White Horse Inn, 1926), directed by Richard Oswald, is certainly one of the most famous, and was remade four times between 1935 and 1960.¹ However, ‘tourist film’ is not a recognised genre or industrial category, but a term I apply retrospectively to describe a specific type of film that deals with the holiday experiences of urban tourists. Film scholars have customarily considered these light-hearted comedies about people spending holidays in the countryside as a simple variation of theHeimatfilmgenre, as...

  10. Chapter 5 Comedy
    (pp. 166-198)

    With around sixty-five films, comedy was the largest genre in postwar Austria. About one-quarter of the yearly film output between 1945 and 1955 was comedy, making it one of the most popular genres in Austrian cinema.¹ Comedies provided light-hearted, escapist entertainment, albeit a form of escapism that differed from that of other genres. Historical costume film, for instance, invited the spectator to relive a glorious past, thereby instilling a sense of national pride.Heimatfilmprovided escape to an unspoilt, rural world in which those faithful to traditional values were rewarded. The pleasures that audiences derived from watching comedy were different:...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 199-210)

    A major reason why cinema – and particularly domestic cinema – was so popular in postwar Austria was that the films provided reassurance to the audience. Struggling for economic survival, burdened with the trauma of war and dictatorship and apprehensive about the country’s uncertain future, people looked for reassurance as well as escape. Popular cinema’s seemingly apolitical stance offered encouragement and comfort to an audience wary of politics. Like other postwar cinemas, it helped audiences to manage their suffering or unacknowledged guilt, to cope with rapid social transformations and to embrace change. But Austrian cinema was unique: it did not just bolster...

  12. Bibliography and Sources
    (pp. 211-228)
  13. Filmography
    (pp. 229-256)
  14. Index Names and Film Titles
    (pp. 257-263)
  15. Index
    (pp. 265-274)