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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Film Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Prerequisites: 

None

Description: 

 

*IMPORTANT: This course is an International Affairs & Security Studies (12 for 12 for 12) course. Students on the Metropolitan Studies program can NOT take more than TWO 12 for 12 for 12 courses! This does not include German language courses.

What is national cinema in the light of the international dimension of the production and reception of movies? This question is the starting point of the seminar. We will use the example of German film making in its relation to US cinema to explore the ways in which cinema cultures coexist within the broader context of globalization.

The concept of the transnational in film helps us look at a dynamic that concepts of the national and the global alone do not usually bring to light. For example, one object of analysis will be the close relationship between the Babelsberg and Hollywood film studios in the early twentieth and twenty-first centuries. How have both cultures enriched one another? What impact has the economic power of Hollywood had on German film making; which strategies has German film developed to approach this economic imbalance?

With these questions in mind, the course explores how US and German cinemas have engaged with major themes of the twentieth and twenty-first century: these include urbanization and modernization;, World War II, the Holocaust and the Cold War as well as the subject of capitalism, race and gender. How do contemporary discussions of these themes change not only through time (and from film to film) but also depending on their national-cultural contexts?

Students are introduced to German cinema from a transnational perspective and gain a new understanding of US film culture. They learn how the two movie industries and the specific images they develop position themselves globally in two specific (trans)national contexts.

Please note that this course is pending a Spring 2016 Review by the Curriulum committee.

Field study: 
  • Museum of Film and Television Berlin (free on Thursday afternoons): This museum has an excellent permanent exhibition on German film from the beginnings to the end of the Second World War and repeatedly touches on relations with Hollywood
  • Studio Tour Babelsberg (25 € p.p.!): This guided tour through the studios changes according to on-going productions; it focuses on the studio’s history and contemporary international production (Tarantino, Polanski, Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise, The Bourne Supremacy, The Hunger Games …)
content: 
Unit Topic Coursework
Week 1

Introduction: Flows of images, people, and funds between the US and Germany

Film:

  • Inglourious Bastards (Q. Tarantino, 2009)

Reading: 

  • Randolph Halle, “The Work of Film in the Age of Transnational Production”  
Week 2

Definitions and Discussions: national – international –  transnational – global

Reading:

  • Ulf Hedetoft, “Contemporary Cinema: Between Cultural Globalization and National Interpretation;”
  • Andrew Higson, “The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema;”
  • Rudolph Halle, “Apprehending Transnationalism” 
Week 3

Land/Cityscapes of Transatlantic Modernism

The City Symphony (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City / Manhatta)

Film:

  • Der verlorene Sohn (The Prodigal Son, Luis Trenker, 1934)

Reading:

  • Cecilia Mouat, “Experimental Modernism in City Symphony Films;”
  • Sabine Hake, “Weimar Cinema, 1919-1933” (excerpts)
Week 4

German Exiles in the US: Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich

Film:

  • A Foreign Affair (B. Wilder, 1946)

Reading:

  • Joseph Loewenstein and Lynne Tatlock, “The Marshall Plan at the Movies: Marlene Dietrich and Her Incarnations;”
  • Gerd Gemünden, “Gained in Translation: Exile Cinema and the Case of Billy Wilder”
Week 5

Cold War I: The “Americanization” of West Germany and The New (West) German Cinema

Film:

  • Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things; W. Wenders, 1982)

Reading:

  • Winfried Fluck, “California Blue: Americanization and Self-Americanization;”
  • Thomas Elsaesser, “American Friends: Hollywood Echoes in the New German Cinema”
Week 6

Cold War II: Images of the US between East Germany and Hollywood

Film: 

  • James Bond in Karl-Marx-Stadt: Octopussy (or Hitchcock: Torn Curtain)

Reading:

  • Gerd Gemünden, “Zwischen Karl May und Karl Marx. Die Defa-Indianerfilme;”
  • Sabine Hake, “Anti-Americanism and the Cold War: On the DEFA Berlin Films”
Week 7

The Holocaust in German and US American Memory

Film:

  • Schindler’s List (S. Spielberg, 1993)

Reading:

  • Stephan K. Schindler, “Displaced Images: The Holocaust in German Film”
  • David Bathrick, “Cinematic Americanization of the Holocaust in Germany: Whose Memory is it?”  
Week 8

The Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus

Film: 

  • Lola rennt (Run, Lola Run, T. Tykwer, 1998)

Reading:

  • Eric Rentschler, “From New German Cinema to the Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus;”
  • Christine Haase, “Lola rennt: A Study in Transcultural Filmmaking”
Week 9

Hollywood and Babelsberg in the Twenty-first Century

Film:

  • The Bourne Supremacy (P. Greengrass, 2004)

Reading:

  • Toby Miller (et al.), Global Hollywood 2 (excerpts)
Week 10

Screening Diversity in the US and Germany

Film:

  • Dealer (T. Arslan, 1999)

Reading:

  • Hamid Naficy, “Situating Accented Cinema;”
  • Maria Stehle, “Ghetto Filmscapes and the Politics of the Ghetto Film” (excerpts);
  • Gert Gemünden, “Hollywood in Altona: Minority Cinema and the Transnational Imagination.” 
Required readings: 
  • Bathrick, David. “Cinematic Americanization of the Holocaust in Germany: Whose Memory is it?”  Americanization and Anti-Americanism: The German Encounter with American Culture After 1945. Ed. Alexander Stephen. New York: Berghahn Books, 2005.  129-
  • Fluck, Winfried. “California Blue: Americanization and Self-Americanization.” Americanization and Anti-Americanism: The German Encounter with American Culture After 1945. Ed. Alexander Stephen. New York: Berghahn Books, 2005.  221-237.
  • Gemünden, Gerd. “Gained in Translation: Exile Cinema and the Case of Billy Wilder.” Schindler, Stephan K. and Lutz Koepnick, eds. The Cosmopolitan Screen: German Cinema and the Global Imaginary, 1945 to the Present. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan, 2007. 25-38.
  • Gemünden, Gert. “Hollywood in Altona: Minority Cinema and the Transnational Imagination.” 180-190. Agnes C. Mueller, ed. German Pop Culture: How “American” Is It? Ann Arbor: U Mich Press, 2004.
  • Gemünden, Gerd. "Zwischen Karl May und Karl Marx. Die Defa-Indianerfilme," Germans and Indians: fantasies, encounters, projections, Colin Gordon Calloway et al. (Lincoln, NE: U. of Nebraska Press, 2002), 243-256. 
  • Haase, Christine. “Lola rennt: A Study in Transcultural Filmmaking.” When Heimat Meets Hollywood: German Filmmakers and America, 1985 – 2005. Rochester, N.Y. : Camden House; 2007. 174-188.
  • Hake, Sabine. “Weimar Cinema, 1919-1933.” German National Cinema. London: Routledge, 2002. 27-59.
  • Halle, Randolph. ““Apprehending Transnationalism.” German Film After Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2008. 13-29.
  • Halle, Randolph. “The Work of Film in the Age of Transnational Production.” German Film After Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2008. 1-11.
  • Hedetoft, Ulf. “Contemporary Cinema: Between Cultural Globalization and National Interpretation.” Hjort, Mette and Scott Mackenzie, eds. Cinema and Nation. London: Routledge, 2000. 278-297.
  • Higson, Andrew. “The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema.” Ezra, Elizabeth and Terry Rowden, eds. Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader. London: Routledge, 2006. 15-25.
  • Loewenstein, Joseph, and Lynne Tatlock. “The Marshall Plan at the Movies: Marlene Dietrich and Her Incarnations.” The German Quarterly 65.3-4 (Summer-Fall 1992): 429-442.
  • Miller, Toby (et al.): Global Hollywood 2. London: The British Film Institute, 2005.
  • Mouat, Cecilia. “Experimental Modernism in City Symphony Films.” Robert P. McParland, ed. Film and Literary Modernism. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2013. 20-26.
  • Rentschler, Eric. “From New German Cinema to the Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus.” Hjort, Mette and Scott Mackenzie, eds. Cinema and Nation. London: Routledge, 2000. 260-277.
  • Schindler, Stephan K. “Displaced Images: The Holocaust in German Film.” Schindler, Stephan K. and Lutz Koepnick, eds. The Cosmopolitan Screen: German Cinema and the Global Imaginary, 1945 to the Present. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan, 2007. 192-205.
  • Stehle, Maria. “Ghetto Filmscapes and the Politics of the Ghetto Film.” Ghetto Voices in Contemporary German Culture. Textscapes, Filmscapes, Soundscapes. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012. 65-125. 
Other Resources: 

Filmography

  • A Foreign Affair (B. Wilder, 1946)
  • The Bourne Supremacy (P. Greengrass, 2004)
  • Dealer (T. Arslan, 1999)
  • Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things; W. Wenders, 1982)
  • Der verlorene Sohn (The Prodigal Son, Luis Trenker, 1934)
  • Inglourious Basterds (Q. Tarantino, 2009)
  • Lola rennt (Run, Lola Run, T. Tykwer, 1998)
  • Octopussy (J. Glen, 1983)
  • Schindler’s List (S. Spielberg, 1993)
  • Torn Curtain (A. Hitchcock, 1966)