FMS/GER 176A: Weimar Cinema
Weimar Cinema – the diverse film culture of 1920s Germany – gave birth or early impetus to some of the most important film genres for global cinema, including horror, film noir, science fiction, and melodrama. The course will chart how it was within the context of Weimar Germany and, above all, its uneasy confrontation with modernity and modernization that the horror film, film noir, science-fiction film, and the melodrama all emerged. In these cultural products, the class will discuss various topics like: the twentieth-century revolution in aesthetics, the impact of war on society, Expressionism in text and in film, technology and the metropolis, changing gender roles as well as the changing nature of work. Focusing on these questions of modernity and cinema as well as the origins of these film genres, the course will reevaluate the canonical films of this period, including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and M as well as address lesser known works like Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, The Last Laugh, and Girls in Uniform. This course will analyze these films but also the varied and variegated scholarly approaches to Weimar Cinema. A study of Weimar cinema, in fact, affords an indispensable occasion on which to engaged with what is probably the most famous single book of film criticism, Siegfried Kracauer’s From Caligari to Hitler. But the course will not only address Kracauer’s canonical work, but also set Kracauer in a mutually illuminating dialogue with Lotte Eisner and Thomas Elsaesser – and thereby offer diverse approaches to film, an approach that will highlight the range of approaches and stakes in film studies.
Instructor: Jaimey Fisher