Cinema and National Identity in a Divided Germany 1979-1989 the Split Screen

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This study provides a comparative analysis of the political, economic and ideological determinants shaping East and West German Feature films during the so-called established phase of the two states between 1979 and 1989. I the first part the author provides a theoretical framework for comparing the two film cultures on an abstract ideological level. The second part analyses the extent to which the political systems of the FRG and GDR shaped production, distribution and exhibition in order to establish a particular type of film culture. Finally, it investigates in greater detail how political, economic and cultural debates surrounding the question of an East and West German identity were translated into filmic discourse.


“The author shows a thorough, confident, and accurate command of his material. . . . He writes clearly and avoids the use of excessive jargon. His investigations are original, and his conclusions are cogently argued. His determination to break with the tradition of many studies of post-war German cinema by examining developments in the East is especially welcome. His imaginative approach to his subject has resulted in a work of genuine originality that broadens the perspective within which his topic has traditionally been analysed.” - John Sandford

“In particular, by assessing yet unpublished archive material as well as interviewing filmmakers and high-ranking state officials, like the former film Minister of the GDR, the author succeeds in creating a book which conveys a wealth of inside knowledge. . . . also integrates a profound analysis of a wide variety of institutions, organizations and political parties, as well as their interactive functions within this complex network.” – Berndt H. Brussig

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
Preface by Professor Barton Byg
Part One: Concepts and Methods
1. Introduction
2. The discourse of German cinema
3. The mediation of national identity
Part Two: East and West German Cinema (1979-1989)
4. Political pressure on production
5. The central role of distribution
6. The organisation of exhibition
Part Three: Discourses of national Identity
7. Bourgeois politics of the self
8. Socialist politics of the other
9. Conclusion
Appendices: Glossary; Films; Tables, Bibliography; Index

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