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Performing the Modern German

Performance and Identity in Contemporary German Cinema


Matthias Uecker

Since the late 1990s, German cinema has gone through a period of astonishing productivity and success that has made it the focus of scholarly analysis once more. What can contemporary German cinema tell us about current German society and its problems? What are the distinguishing features of filmmaking in Germany today?
This book analyses the representation of individual and collective behaviour in post-unification German cinema. It looks at performances of gender, ethnicity and nationality in a wide range of contemporary German films. Using Performance Theory as a framework, the book discusses how modern German identities are presented as conformist, liberating or subversive responses to external challenges.
Theoretical considerations regarding the efficacy of performance and the dialectical relationship between transgression, resistance and normalization form the background for an analysis that investigates contemporary German films in terms of their function within the restructuring of post-unification German society.


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Conclusion - The Pursuit of Normality: Performed Identities in Current German Cinema


Conclusion – The Pursuit of Normality: Performed Identities in Current German Cinema The emergence of a rejuvenated German cinema that produces works of a wide variety of styles, genres and topics appears to have coincided with the stabilization of post-unification Germany in the late 1990s. As the new Germany established an apparently consensual new identity which – according to some observers – found its most comfortable expression in the relaxed celebration of the national football team during the 2006 World Cup,1 its cinema also discovered a new confidence to produce more than generic comedies and television movies. A renewed ambition has characterized recent film-making in Germany and such ambition has been rewarded by sustained critical attention, broad exposure to cinematic audiences both in Germany and abroad, and even occasional commercial success and recognition in Hollywood. While direct comparisons to the New German Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s are perhaps misleading, the recent works of the young(ish) German cinema once again show an inter- est both in the country’s history and in its current state, shadowing and contributing to the full range of cultural and political discussions about memories of the GDR and the Nazi period, multiculturalism, gender rela- tionships, youth, and economic power. Although the ‘cinema of consen- sus’ (Eric Rentschler) has perhaps not been entirely discarded in favour of innovative and controversial film-making, a significant widening of both aesthetic and thematic concerns is undeniable. It is therefore plausible to read many of these films as extensions of an on-going...

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