Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Aug 24, 2009 - Performing Arts - 328 pages
0 Reviews

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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The War at Home
7
2 Tales from the Asylum
45
3 The Return of the Undead
87
4 Myth Murder and Revenge
131
5 The Industrial Battlefield
167
Conclusion
211
Notes
217
Weimar Cinema on DVD
251
Bibliography
267
Index
299
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Anton Kaes is the Class of 1939 Professor of German and Film Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of "From Hitler to Heimat: The Return of History as Film" and "M", and the coeditor of "The Weimar Republic Sourcebook".

Bibliographic information