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Identity in Postmillennial German Films on Africa

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Shikuku Emmanuel Tsikhungu

This book is a literary and cultural investigation of the different levels of identity as revealed in German films on and about Africa. Taking sexual, spatial, linguistic and body identities as its core concern, the book elucidates how the contemporary German film narratives on Africa binarize bordeline cultural and geographical identities. While this binarism assigns the metropolitan status to the German, the African is relegated to the margins in the human socio-geocultural aspects. The book contradicts this kind of binary narration as it argues that trans-border identities are fraught with complexities that cannot be simply straitjacketed. It celebrates those moments where the narratives challenge the existing boundaries at the interstice between the North and the South. It further celebrates the moments where the film narratives recognize the complexity of cultures by acknowledging the disruptiveness and continuities of linguistic, cultural, sexual, spatial and body identities especially at the contact zone of Germany and Africa.
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2.0 Narrative and Cinematic Modes of Representation

Extract

Stories are at the heart of what explorers and novelists say about strange regions of the world; they also became the method colonized people use to assert their own identity and the existence of their own history…the power to narrate, or to black other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the connections between them1

This chapter discusses those literary and cinematic forms that the filmmakers employ to narrate the German stories of, in, on and about Africa. Literary conventions as well as cinematic forms are interrogated on how they aid in weaving the ideologies present in the films. The chapter remains alive to the fact that the films are productions whose realization is not only for auteuristic but also for commercial purposes as part of the popular culture and thus the aesthetics of their realization are also geared towards spectator pleasure for commercial gains. In such a case, spectator positioning becomes part of the aesthetics of the film and this chapter will seek to look at how the spectator is positioned in the films. Cinematic forms like the panoramic shot on African scenes and closed shots on German scenes are analysed for their ideological functions. The different kinds of plots of the feature length films, the ficto-documentaries and the TV drama (the three kinds of films that are in the corpus of the films under study) are analysed in this chapter. The chapter concludes that the forms...

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