When New German cinema directors like R. W. Fassbinder, Ulrike Ottinger, and Werner Schroeter explored issues of identity—national, political, personal, and sexual—music and film style played crucial roles. Most studies of the celebrated film movement, however, have sidestepped the role of music, a curious oversight given its importance to German culture and nation formation. Caryl Flinn’s study reverses this trend, identifying styles of historical remembrance in which music participates. Flinn concentrates on those styles that urge listeners to interact with difference—including that embodied in Germany’s difficult history—rather than to "master" or "get past" it.
Flinn breaks new ground by considering contemporary reception frameworks of the New German Cinema, a generation after its end. She discusses transnational, cultural, and historical contexts as well as the sexual, ethnic, national, and historical diversity of audiences. Through detailed case studies, she shows how music helps filmgoers engage with a range of historical subjects and experiences. Each chapter of The New German Cinema examines a particular stylistic strategy, assessing music’s role in each. The study also examines queer strategies like kitsch and camp and explores the movement’s charged construction of human bodies on which issues of ruination, survival, memory, and pleasure are played out.
Introduction: "Strategies of Remembrance"
PART 1. HISTORICAL PREDECESSORS: MELODRAMA AND MODERNISM
1. Mourning, Melancholia, and "New German Melodrama"
2. Modernism's Aftershocks: Peer Raben's Film Music for Fassbinder
PART 2. MUSIC AND THE MATERIALS OF HISTORY: ALEXANDER KLUGE
3. Kluge's Assault on History: Trauma, Testimony, and Difference in The Patriot
4. Undoing Act 5: History, Bodies, and Operatic Remains: Kluge's The Power of Emotion
PART 3. QUEERING HISTORY THROUGH CAMP AND KITSCH
5. Restaging History with Fantasy: Body, Camp, and Sound in the Films of Treut, Ottinger, and von Praunheim
6. Introjecting Kitsch: Werner Schroeter, Music, and Alterity
Coda: Working the Pieces
Caryl Flinn is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Strains of Utopia: Nostalgia, Gender, and Hollywood Film Music (1992) and coeditor of Music and Cinema (2001).
"[A] scintillating and accomplished new study. . . . Flinn provides a rigorous exposition of the ways in which filmmakers of the New German cinema reconstructed and resurrected the Nazi past in their films. She writes with passionate commitment."—Leonie Naughton Screening The Past
“Sophisticated. . . . Poignant.”—Leonie Naughton Screening The Past
"Despite its intricacy, Filnn's argument is as clear as her prose. . . . Highly recommended."—S. Liebman Choice
"An original, intelligent, and insightful book. Over the past twenty years, the New German Cinema has been the topic of some of our most sophisticated studies of memory, history, and political identity. Flinn extends, deepens, and expands on this work to offer necessary insights about music, cinema, and national identity in postwar Germany. With wit, rigor, and an engaging prose style, Flinn exposes the New German Cinema in its ability to dramatize a commitment to historical memory that is not sentimental, romanticized, or fueled by nationalist fervor. This is a remarkably innovative, transformative, and important work."—Patrice Petro, author of Aftershocks of the New: Feminism & Film History
"Using the musical soundtrack as her 'Auftakt,' Caryl Flinn revisits melodrama and melancholia, camp and kitsch, and memory and shock in the works of such filmmakers as Fassbinder, Kluge, Ottinger, Treut, and Schroeter. The resulting intellectual counterpoint is dazzling. In the wake of this articulate analysis, the New German Cinema will never be the same again. In these 'leaden times' of ours, Flinn reminds us of the hope that an alternative aesthetics has to offer."—Alice Kuzniar, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, author of The Queer German Cinema