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This is the first comprehensive account of Germany's most enduring film genre, the Heimatfilm, which has offered idyllic variations on the idea that "there is no place like home" since cinema's early days. Charting the development of this popular genre over the course of a century in a work informed by film studies, cultural history, and social theory, Johannes von Moltke focuses in particular on its heyday in the 1950s, a period that has been little studied. Questions of what it could possibly mean to call the German nation "home" after the catastrophes of World War II are anxiously present in these films, and von Moltke uses them as a lens through which to view contemporary discourses on German national identity.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Locating Heimat
PART I. ROOTS
1. Evergreens: The Place of Heimat in German Film History
2. Therapeutic Topographies: From Ludwig Ganghofer to the Nazi Heimatfilm
PART II. ROUTES
3. Launching the Heimatfilmwelle: From the Trümmerfilm to Grün ist die Heide
4. Heimat/Horror/History: Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab
5. Nostalgic Modernization: Locating Home in the Economic Miracle
6. Expellees, Emigrants, Exiles: Spectacles of Displacement
7. Collectivizing the Local: DEFA and the Question of Heimat in the 1950s
PART III. RETROSPECTS
8. Inside/Out: Spaces of History in Edgar Reitz’s Heimat
Epilogue: Heimat, Heritage, and the Invention of Tradition
Johannes von Moltke is Associate Professor of German and Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan.
“The first book on the subject that avoids both the predictable condemnations of highbrow critics and the hagiography of supporters and fans. . . . Von Moltke deserves much credit for providing an intriguing account of the genre’s continuing allure and the changing ends toward which the concept of Heimat has been summoned since the end of World War II.”—Bookforum
"Alternating between panoramic prospects and close-up views, this epic study takes us on an invigorating journey through a century of film history. This exemplar of critical film history is a major breakthrough."—Eric Rentschler, Harvard University
"Taking his cue from Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Johannes von Moltke argues that only once one's home is jeopardized or lost does one realize that "There's no place like home." In brilliant readings of German films from the 1950s and early 1960s, he sees "Heimat" as a deeply ambivalent, unstable concept, forever in need of re-grounding. In these films, "Heimat" must be incorporated or adapted into various menaces, whether the threat comes from outsiders, such as politically displaced persons or city dwellers relocating to the countryside, or via the encroachment of modernity, as with increased technological communication and transportation. This book is the sum of superior research, engaging presentation, and sophisticated argumentation. It offers an original contribution to German cultural history."—Alice A. Kuzniar, author of The Queer German Cinema
Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies, Modern Language Association of America