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German Cinema - Essay Example

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Cinema is one of the main aspects that have shaped the German culture. The history of German cinema dates back towards the end of the nineteenth century. …
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German Cinema Introduction Cinema is one of the main aspects that have shaped the German culture. The history of German cinema dates back towards the end of the nineteenth century. However, during this time, it had not gained much prominence in the country and only few actors participated in it (Reimer et al 16). Early experiments in German cinema by people like Ottomar Anschutz, John Isaacs, and Eadweard Mybridge sparked an early and great interest in the cinema potential in Germany. Invention of Bioscope, a double projector system, by Max Skladanowsky and his public presentation of pictures in Berlin Wintergarten in November 1, 1895 showed how great the potential of cinema was in Germany (Cook 207). After a relatively sluggish start of German cinema in the late nineteenth century, German cinema got off to an incredible start straight after World War I. This fantastic start could be attributed to the liberal atmosphere of the Republic of Weimar that triggered explosion across German culture, particularly the creative disciplines (Brockman 69). Early Developments of German Cinema After the World War I, German filmmakers responded by appropriating various techniques of expressionist theatre and painting, incorporating them into twisted terror and madness tales. These techniques are what led to the invention of what would later come to be known as horror film (Hoffgen 33). With its distorted set designs, layers of visions and dreams, and tortured eye rolling, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is acknowledged as the landmark of Germany’s cinema, as well as of international cinema (Cook 204). In the year 1922, there came an equally groundbreaking cinema, Nosferatu that enshrined some of the frightening film images to ever be recorded. These two groundbreaking films also marked the start of the careers of two great movie directors – FW Murnau and Robert Wiene who later developed some more authentic masterpieces such as Faust and The Last Laugh (Reimer et al 108). In the 1920s and 1930s, German cinema had developed to be one of the important tools that shaped the German culture. Since most of the films were created to reflect various aspects of the German culture, they had a lot of influence in the economic, social, and political spheres of the culture (Brockman 70). Besides, the films reflected the political, social, and economic happenings in German at the time and this had an influence on many German’s thinking. The rise of German cinema witnessed various challenges during and after the rise of the Nazis. This resulted to the fleeing of such German filmmakers as Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, and Robert Siodmak to the west to find new degrees of fortune and fame in Hollywood (Reimer et al 122). After Hitler came to power in the year 1933, virtually all the major names in German cinema had left the country. After the collapse of Hitler’s regime, German cinema was still in the rubble. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, German cinema was still struggling to emerge amid a divided Germany. However, the drought that had characterized German cinema was finally broken in the early 1970s when the political and social ferment in West Germany reached top-notch (Hoffgen 48). New German Cinema The period between 1960 and 1980 was very critical in the history of German cinema. It marked the beginning of the New German Cinema. This was a culmination of the signing of the Oberhausen Manifesto by twenty-six German directors, which declared the old German cinema dead (Cook 205). The New German Cinema emphasized the necessity of short films as a tool of education rather than entertainment. The young filmmakers of this era intended to produce low budget films that reflected the German culture and concerned themselves with the contemporary German problems – the youth alienation, moral disaster of Nazi legacy, the bourgeoisie’s morality, and the postwar society materiality (Brockman 93). The attempt to this meaningful and new film culture evolved into a strong industry receiving numerous international awards. Some of the notable figures of the New German Cinema include Franz Josef Spieker, Volker Schlondorff, Werner Herzog, Rainer Fassbinder, and Wim Wanders, among others (Reimer et al 176). Conclusion Apparently, New German Cinema brought great achievements in the German film industry, which led to renewed international recognition of the nation’s film and establishment of state funding for the industry (Hoffgen 97). Presently, German cinema is one of the most acclaimed in the world. Besides, German cinema is still playing very important role in shaping the German culture. The biggest film producers of German cinema include UFA, Studio Hamburg, Constantin Film, and Bavaria Film (Brockman 185). Modern German films like The Lives of Others, The Counterfeiters, and Downfall address politics of the country especially the totalitarianism nature of the twentieth century Germany. Recently, German cinema has experienced an influx in underground and independent films. Besides, as Brockman points out, it is receiving good returns and bigger-budget films have become attractive (201). Works Cited Brockman, Stephen. A Critical History of German Film. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010. Print. Cook, Pam. The Cinema Book. London: British Film Institute, 2007. Print. Hoffgen, Maggie. Studying German Cinema. Leighton Buzzard: Auteur publishing, 2010. Print. Reimer, Robert et al. German Culture through Film: An Introduction to German Cinema. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2005. 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