German 34: Popular Cinema
Prof. Christian Rogowski
This course provides an introduction into popular forms of cinema in the German speaking
countries. We will discuss a number of significant films from various historical periods and
place them in their respective cultural and socio-historical context.
You will be introduced to a number of filmic genres, some of the most popular performers, and
some of the key thematic concerns that reflect the interests, fantasies, and desires of German
speaking audiences. What makes them laugh, what makes them cry, what do they identify with?
The aim of the course is to enhance your understanding of culturally specific mentalities and
dispositions as reflected in the most popular and most powerful entertainment medium, popular
The course grades will be based on the following components:
1. [20 %] Regular attendance and active participation in classroom discussion. I expect you
to come to each class meeting, prepared to participate in the discussion (i.e. having done
the reading and having watched the movies). I will take attendance, and the component
grade will be affected by each unexcused absence.
I expect you to watch all the films, preferably in the context of our joint viewing session.
If you can’t make it to class or to an agreed upon video screening, it is a question of
common courtesy to let me know why, preferably ahead of time, and to make up what
2. [2 x 20 %] Two short papers (ca. 5 pages each). Each paper will be “peer-reviewed,” i. e.
it will be read and commented upon by a class-mate. The quality of your comments on a
fellow-student’s paper will factor into the class participation component of your grade.
3. [15 %] One in-class oral presentation (ca. 20 mins.) of a “project” (a filmmaker, a
performer, a genre, an issue) of your choice. Students with enough background in the
language are encouraged to investigate sources in German for their “project” (such as
German publications, web sites, videos without subtitles).
4. [25 %] Final paper (ca. 10 pages), can be based upon one of the previous assignments
(i.e. the first two papers, or the “project”). If you decide to expand a previous
assignment, you will be judged on the quality and care with which you addressed
comments and feedback you received on your earlier effort/s.
Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter, and Deniz Göktürk, eds., The German Cinema Book.
London: Univ. of California Press / British Film Institute, 2002. [ = GCB]
Randall Halle and Margaret McCarthy, eds. Light Motives. German Popular Cinema in
Perspective. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 2003. [ = LM]
Both available at the Amherst Bookstore. 8 Main St.
Other xeroxed materials [marked A(x)@]
Web materials (links on this syllabus and in other course website folders).
(1) Tue., Jan. 29
Introduction: Structure and aims of the course.
FILM: Die Austernprinzessin (The Oyster Princess; Ernst Lubitsch, 1919; 65 mins.). Time tbd;
(2) Thu., Jan. 31
Discuss The Oyster Princess.
The history of early German Cinema / the German history of early cinema.
• Janet McCabe, "Regulating Hidden Pleasures and 'Modern' Identities: Imagined Female
Spectators, Early German Popular Cinema, and The Oyster Princess (1919)," LM, 24-40.
• Brandlmeier, "Early German Film Comedy 1897-1917" (1996) (x).
• Manvell/Fraenkel, "Pioneers in a new art 1895-1918" (1971) (x).
FILM: Das indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb; Joe May, 1921; ca. 2 hours). Time tbd; Barrett
(3) Tue., Feb. 5:
Discuss The Indian Tomb.
• Christian Rogowski, "From Ernst Lubitsch to Joe May: Challenging Kracauer's Demonology
with Weimar Popular Film," LM, 1-23.
• Sabine Hake, "Transatlantic Careers: Ernst Lubitsch and Fritz Lang," GCB, 217-226.
(4) Thu., Feb. 7
Popular Cinema during the Weimar Republic (1919-1933).
Early female film stars: Asta Nielsen, Henny Porten, Mia May.
Excercise in film analysis 1.
• Siegfried Kracauer, "Introduction" to From Caligari to Hitler (1947), 3-11 (x).
• Gerd Gemünden, "How to View a Film" (1997) (x).
• Kaes/Rentschler, "Analyzing a Narrative Film/Reading a Film Sequence"
FILM: Im Juli (In July; Fatih Akin, 2000; 98 min.) 4:00 & 7:30 pm, Stirn Auditorium.
(5) Tue., Feb. 12
Discuss In July.
Excercise in film analysis 2.
• David Bordwell, "Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narrational Principles and Procedures" (1985)
• Randall Halle/ Margaret McCarthy, "Introduction," LM, IX-XVI.
• Bergfelder/Carter/Göktürk, "Introduction," GCB, 1-12.
(6) Thu., Feb. 14
Early cinema and its audiences.
The "Kinodebatte" 1909-1929.
• Joseph Garncarz, "The Origins of Film Exhibition in Germany," GCB, 112-120.
• Frank Kessler and Eva Warth, "Early Cinema and Its Audiences," GCB, 121-128.
• Anton Kaes, "Mass Culture and Modernity: Notes Toward a Social History of Early American
and German Cinema." (1985) (x).
• Anton Kaes, "The Debate about Cinema: Charting a Controversy (1909-1929)," (1987) (x).
FILM: Die drei von der Tankstelle (Three from the Gas Station; Wilhelm Thiele, 1930; 99
min.); time TBD; Barrett 105.
(7) Tue., Feb. 19
Discuss Three from the Gas Station.
Film comedy of the Weimar Republic.
• Jan Christopher Horak, "German Film Comedy," GCB, 29-38.
• Erica Carter, "Stars: Introduction," CGB. 59-62.
• Stephen Lowry, "Heinz Rühmann - The Archetypal German," GCB, 81-89.
• Siegfried Kracauer, "The Little Shopgirls go to the Movies," (1927) (x)
FILM: Das blaue Licht (The Blue Light; Leni Riefenstahl, 1932; 79 min.); time TBD; Barrett
(8) Thu., Feb. 21
Discuss The Blue Light.
• Eric Rentschler, "Mountains and Modernity" Relocating the Bergfilm," (1990) (x).
• Nancy Nenno, "'Postcards from the Edge': Education to Tourism in the German Mountain
Film," LM, 61-84.
FILM: Vier Minuten (Four Minutes, Chris Kraus, 2006; 112 min.) 4:00 & 7:30 pm, Stirn
(9) Tue., Feb. 26
Discuss Four Minutes.
Weimar Art Cinema (1919-1933)
Male stars: Heinz Rühmann, Hans Albers, Willy Fritsch
• Lotte H. Eisner, excerpts from The Haunted Screen (1952) (x).
• Hans-Michael Bock and Michael Töteberg, "Studio System and Identity: UFA," GCB, 129-
(10) Thu., Feb. 28
Cinema under National Socialism (1933-1945).
Female film stars: Lilian Harvey, Zarah Leander, Marika Rökk
• Julian Petley, "Film Policy in the Third Reich," GCB, 173-181.
• Lutz Koepnick, "Engendering Mass Culture: Zarah Leander and the Economy of Desire,"
FILM: Die Abenteuer des Baron Münchhausen (The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen, Josef
von Baky, 1943; 116 min.). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(11) Tue., Mar. 4
Discuss The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen.
• Eric Rentschler, "Self-Reflexive Self-Destruction: Münchhausen (1943)," (1996) (x).
• Sabine Hake, "Popular Cinema, National Cinema, Nazi Cinema. A Definition of Terms,"
(12) Thu., Mar. 6
-- FIRST PAPER DUE –
Film in Post-War Germany (1945-1961).
FILM: Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers are among us, Wolfgang Staudte, 1946; 81
min). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(13) Tue., Mar 11
Discuss Die Mörder sind unter uns.
• Barton Byg, "Nazism as Femme Fatale: Recuperations of Cinematic Masculinity in Post War
Berlin," (1997) (x).
• Horst Claus, "DEFA: State, Studio, Style, Identity," GCB, 139-147.
• Martin Loiperdinger, "State Legislation, Censorship and Funding," GCB, 148-158.
FILM: Sissi (Ernst Marischka, 1955, 105 min.). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(14) Thu., Mar. 13
West-German Post-War Film (1946-1961).
• Johannes von Moltke, "Evergreens: The Heimat Genre." GCB, 18-28.
• Alasdair King, "Placing Green is the Heath (1951): Spatial Politics and Emergent West German
Identity," LM, 130-147.
• Heide Fehrenbach, "Popular Cinema, Spectatorship, and Identity in the Early 1950s," (1995)
FILM: Winnetou (Harald Reinl, 1963; 98 min.) 4:00 & 7:30 pm, Stirn Auditorium.
-- SPRING BREAK (Mar. 15 - 23) --
(15) Tue., Mar. 25
• Katrin Sieg, "Race and Reconstruction: Winnetou in Bad Segeberg." (from Ethnic Drag, 2002)
• Michael Kimmelman, “In Germany, Wild for Winnetou.” New York Times, Sept. 9, 2007.
FILM:Die Söhne der grossen Bärin (The Sons of Great Bear, Josef Mach, 1966; 93 min).
(16) Thu., Mar. 27
Discuss The Sons of Great Bear.
The 1960s and 1970s: East German film and the Cold War.
• Gerd Gemünden, Between Karl May and Karl Marx: The DEFA-Indianerfilme (1965-1983),"
• Stefan Soldovieri, "The Politics of the Popular: Trace of Stones (1966/89) and the Discourse on
Stardom in the GDR Cinema," LM, 220-236.
FILM:Die Brücke (The Bridge, Bernhard Wicki, 1959, 104 min.).
(17) Tue., Apr. 1
Discuss The Bridge.
The 1960s and 1970s: crisis in West German popular film production.
• Tim Bergfelder, "Exotic Thrills and Bedroom Manuals: West German B-Film Production in the
1960s," LM, 197-219.
• John Sandford, "The Development of West German Cinema." (1982) (x)
FILM: Die blaue Hand (The Blue Hand, Alfred Vohrer, 1967; 87 min.). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(18) Thu., Apr. 3
Discuss The Blue Hand
• Tim Bergfelder, "Extraterritorial Fantasies: Edgar Wallace and the German Crime Film," GCB
FILM: Das Boot (The Boat, Wolfgang Petersen, 1981; 209 min. = 3 ½ hours!). Time tbd; Barrett
(19) Tue., Apr. 8
Discuss The Boat.
• Brad Prager, "Beleaguered under the Sea: Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (1981) as a German
Hollywood Film," LM, 237-258.
• Peter Krämer, "Hollywood in Germany/Germany in Hollywood," GCB, 227-237.
(20) Thu., Apr. 10
West German popular film in the 1980s:
Otto, Loriot, Doris Dörrie.
• Klaus Phillips, "Interview with Doris Dörrie: Filmmaker, Writer, Teacher." (1998) (x)
FILM: Ein ganz gewöhnlicher Jude (Just an ordinary Jew, Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2005; 96 min.).
4:00 & 7:30 pm, Stirn Auditorium.
(21) Tue., Apr. 15
Discuss Just an ordinary Jew.
FILM: Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, Heiner Carow, 1973;
106 min). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(22) Thu., Apr. 17
Discuss The Legend of Paul and Paula.
East German popular film in the 1970s and 1980s.
• Andrea Rinke, "From Models to Misfits: Women in DEFA Films of the 1970's and 1980's."
FILM: Erleuchtung garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed; Doris Dörrie, 2000; 109 min.). Time
tbd; Barrett 105.
(23) Tue., Apr. 22
Discuss Enlightenment Guaranteed.
Robert C. Reimer, “Removing the Mask: Doris Dörrie’s Enlightenment Guaranteed,” (2004) (x).
(24) Thu., Apr. 24
-- SECOND PAPER DUE –
After 1989/90: German popular film after unification:
Peter Timm, Sönke Wortmann, Detlev Buck.
• Ian Garwood, "The Autorenfilm in Contemporary German Cinema," GCB, 202-210.
FILM: Das Versprechen (The Promise, Margarethe von Trotta, 1995; 115 min). 4:00 & 7:30
pm, Stirn Auditorium.
(25) Tue., Apr. 29
Discuss The Promise.
German film of the 1990s:
Joseph Vilsmaier, Dani Levy, Wolfgang Becker
FILM: Lola rennt (Run Lola Run, Tom Tykwer, 1998; 76 min.). Time tbd; Barrett 105.
(26) Thu., May 1
Discuss Run Lola Run.
• Christine Haase, "You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: Transcultural Filmmaking in Run Lola
Run (1998)," LM, 395-415.
FILM: Der bewegte Mann (Maybe, Maybe Not, Sönke Wortmann, 1994; 90 min.). Time tbd;
(27) Tue., May 6
Discuss Maybe, Maybe Not.
The current “Comedy Boom”.
FILM: Bella Martha (Mostly Martha, Sandra Nettelbeck, 2001; 109 min.). Time tbd; Barrett
(28) Thu., May 8
Discuss Mostly Martha.
Contemporary women filmmakers:
Katja von Garnier, Caroline Link, Sandra Nettelbeck.