Further information: Karen Achberger: German Cinema

Expanded Description:

Class meetings will have a seminar format consisting mostly of guided class discussion. Prior to discussion I will share information on three areas—the films themselves, as well as their historical contexts; their “production history” (how they came about); and their “reception history” (how they were received by German audiences and film critics). Everyone is expected to have screened the film of the week before class—no group screening is planned for any of the films—and is asked to read a short article on the film and to give some thought to the “Questions for Discussion” in preparation for class.

DVD copies and some streaming options are available through the three libraries in town, as well as YouTube [free], Netflix [3 plans: $8.99, $13.99, or $17.99/month], Amazon Prime [$12.99/month or $119/year], The Criterion Channel [14-day free trial, $10.99/month or $99.99/year], HBO Max [$14.99/month or $149.99/year], and other services. www.justwatch.com lists streaming sources for each specific film.

Five of our films are available through the Northfield Public Library’s (NPL) Kanopy streaming service and all eight films are also available in DVD format at both colleges in town (see details for each week below).  To check out materials, students will need a NPL membership card (free) and a Community Member (or Faculty) library card from St. Olaf or Carleton (free).

Recommended readings and a detailed syllabus including readings and links will be available electronically before the beginning of the course.

Students will have access to a folder of class materials on my Google-Drive, including a syllabus, scanned readings, and specific discussion questions for each film. Beyond the film-specific questions, we will also discuss more general questions, such as:

On the film itselfWhat story is the film telling us? What are its main themes? What is its message? To what extent is this signaled by its title?

On the film as cinematic art: How do filmic devices like lighting, sound, camera angle, and editing serve to shape or color the story and characters and thus to affect the film’s message?

On the film’s times: How is each of these connected to the historical period in which it was created, e.g.:  How can the film’s story, themes, and message be understood in the context of Germany at the time the film was made? What other factors (including political / economic / personal, etc.) affected the making of the film, and how—its production history? 

Class Schedule

I. In the Wake of the Great War:

Week 1: Silent Horror I—The Insanity of War: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

(Wiene, 1920, 75 min.)  NPL Kanopy stream, DVD at CC + StO libraries

Week 2: Silent Horror II—The Wounds of War: Nosferatu. A Symphony of Horrors (Murnau, 1922, 84 min.)  NPL Kanopy stream, DVD at CC + StO libraries

II. On the Eve of the “Third Reich”:

Week 3: Early “Talkies” I—The “New Woman” as Monster: The Blue Angel (Sternberg, 1930, 107 min.)  NPL Kanopy stream, DVD at CC + StO libraries

Week 4: Early “Talkies” II—The City as Battlefield:  M (Lang, 1931, 117 min.)  

NPL Kanopy, DVD at CC + StO libraries

III. Filming the “Third Reich” and its Rubble:

Week 5: Filming the “Third Reich”—A Paean to the FührerTriumph of the Will (Riefenstahl, 1935, 114 min.)  DVD at CC + StO libraries

Week 6: Filming Its Rubble—The Insanity of War Revisited: The Murderers are Among Us (Staudte, 1946, 91 min.)  NPL Kanopy, DVD at CC + StO libraries

IV. Facing the Past:

Week 7: Interrogating the Nazi Past—Germany in Peril: The Marriage of Maria Braun (Fassbinder, 1979, 115 min.)  DVD at CC + StO libraries, Carleton Kanopy for alums only

Week 8: Jews As Perpetrators?—Surviving the Holocaust: The Counterfeiters (Ruzowitzky, Best Foreign Picture Oscar 2008, 98 min.)   DVD at CC + StO libraries