Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War

Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War

by Anton Kaes
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691031363

ISBN-13: 9780691031361

Pub. Date: 08/24/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Shell Shock Cinema explores how the classical German cinema of the Weimar Republic was haunted by the horrors of World War I and the the devastating effects of the nation's defeat. In this exciting new book, Anton Kaes argues that masterworks such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, The Nibelungen, and Metropolis, even though they do not

Overview

Shell Shock Cinema explores how the classical German cinema of the Weimar Republic was haunted by the horrors of World War I and the the devastating effects of the nation's defeat. In this exciting new book, Anton Kaes argues that masterworks such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, The Nibelungen, and Metropolis, even though they do not depict battle scenes or soldiers in combat, engaged the war and registered its tragic aftermath. These films reveal a wounded nation in post-traumatic shock, reeling from a devastating defeat that it never officially acknowledged, let alone accepted.

Kaes uses the term "shell shock"—coined during World War I to describe soldiers suffering from nervous breakdowns—as a metaphor for the psychological wounds that found expression in Weimar cinema. Directors like Robert Wiene, F. W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang portrayed paranoia, panic, and fear of invasion in films peopled with serial killers, mad scientists, and troubled young men. Combining original close textual analysis with extensive archival research, Kaes shows how this post-traumatic cinema of shell shock transformed extreme psychological states into visual expression; how it pushed the limits of cinematic representation with its fragmented story lines, distorted perspectives, and stark lighting; and how it helped create a modernist film language that anticipated film noir and remains incredibly influential today.

A compelling contribution to the cultural history of trauma, Shell Shock Cinema exposes how German film gave expression to the loss and acute grief that lay behind Weimar's sleek façade.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691031361
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/24/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Illustrations....................vii
Acknowledgments....................ix
Introduction....................1
1 The War at Home....................7
The Wounded Soldier....................8
The Spirit of 1914....................16
Film and Nation....................20
The Battle of Images....................25
A Medium for Deception....................29
The New Empire....................34
Mental Breakdowns....................37
2 Tales from the Asylum....................45
War Neurotics....................46
Recovering the Past....................49
Phantoms and Freaks....................55
From Dr. Charcot to Dr. Caligari....................63
Madness as Resistance....................71
The Hitler Connection....................75
Shattered Space....................81
3 The Return of the Undead....................87
The Lost Generation....................88
Mass Death....................93
Dracula Revisited....................98
A Community under Siege....................108
Hysteria on the Home Front....................113
The Allure of the Occult....................120
The Work of Mourning....................127
4 Myth, Murder, and Revenge....................131
The National Project....................132
Posing for Germany....................135
The Will to Form....................141
The Fallen Hero....................145
Excursus: Lang in World War I....................151
The Sacred Battle....................153
The End of Violence....................157
5 The Industrial Battlefield....................167
Rise of the Machines....................168
Moloch War....................175
Lang's America....................181
The Hunger for Religion....................186
The Workers'Revolt....................193
Destruction and Regeneration....................200
Aftershocks....................205
Conclusion....................211
Notes....................217
Weimar Cinema on DvD....................251
Bibliography....................267
Shell Shock and Trauma Theory....................267
World War I and the Weimar Republic....................272
Weimar Film History....................278
Films Discussed....................283
Index....................299

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