Menu Expand
Re-Imagining DEFA

Re-Imagining DEFA

Séan Allan | Sebastian Heiduschke


Additional Information

Book Details


By the time the Berlin Wall collapsed, the cinema of the German Democratic Republic—to the extent it was considered at all—was widely regarded as a footnote to European film history, with little of enduring value. Since then, interest in East German cinema has exploded, inspiring innumerable festivals, books, and exhibits on the GDR’s rich and varied filmic output. In Re-Imagining DEFA, leading international experts take stock of this vibrant landscape and plot an ambitious course for future research, one that considers other cinematic traditions, brings genre and popular works into the fold, and encompasses DEFA’s complex post-unification “afterlife.”

Sebastian Heiduschke is Associate Professor in the School of Language, Culture, and Society, and Affiliate Faculty in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film at Oregon State University. He has published the monograph DEFA: East German Cinema and Film History (2013) and essays on the marketing, distribution, and fan cultures of DEFA film.

Séan Allan is Professor of German at the University of St Andrews. He is co-editor (with John Sandford) of DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946-1992 (1999), and has published widely on the films of Konrad Wolf, Kurt Maetzig and Jürgen Böttcher, and on East German identity in post-unification cinema.

“Taken together, the essays [by a diverse group of international scholars] create a coherent whole representing the richness of film production before, during, and after DEFA (Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft), the state-owned East German film production company at the loose center of this [useful and compelling] collection.” • Choice

“…a significant contribution to contemporary DEFA scholarship…with an emphasis on breaking open temporal and spatial boundaries. The superb introduction offers an incisive overview of the rapid evolution of DEFA scholarship over the past 25 years, and invites readers to re-imagine DEFA within a much broader framework of both German and global filmmaking histories and traditions… The diversity of approaches offered here and throughout the entire volume affirms the power and promise of transnational and transtemporal inquiry; thanks to projects like this, and the rich resources of both German archives and the DEFA Film Library, our appreciation of DEFA’s multiple legacies will only continue to grow.” • Monatshefte

“It is in the marvellous orchestration of case studies of films, stars, stylistic means and genres that Allan and Heiduschke, [two of the most respected scholars of East German film culture], provide to scholars a multi-layered exploration in DEFAs national and transnational contexts, while also opening up their book to a broader readership to take it on a fascinating journey into DEFA’s rich past.” • Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

“Berghahn is known for its publication of excellent books on German Cinema within its catalog. This recent work proves no exception to the rule. Including fifteen essays by well known scholars in the field aware of the changing complexities of subject matter and well versed in necessary archive research,  [it] presents a fine collection exploring a cinema that is very little known to most Western viewers…a sterling example of what a scholarly academic anthology should be, an excellent model in its own right that should stimulate others to investigate this former national cinema and not consign it to oblivion.” • Film International

Re-Imagining DEFA represents a comprehensive examination of East German film-making at every level of production and distribution which will appeal both to readers familiar with and those who are new to East German cinema. As the title suggests, each chapter in this volume is characterized by the idea of looking anew at both familiar and also overlooked material…[It] represents a clear milestone in East German Film Studies and not only serves as an excellent starting point for those new to East German Film Studies, but also opens up fascinating new avenues of exploration for scholars in the field.” • Modern Language Review

“This is an excellent book that includes among its contributors many of the most respected scholars on DEFA and East German cinema. There is an impressive array of critical and historical approaches on offer here, reflecting the breadth of scholarship on the subject and relating GDR film to a whole array of other areas and disciplines from Third Cinema to science fiction.” • Hunter Bivens, University of California, Santa Cruz

“Looking back from what is now 25 years after reunification, this fine and original collection of essays represents a new phase in scholarship on East German films and filmmakers, one that builds on the achievements of past research while asking valuable new questions.” • Brad Prager, University of Missouri

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
List of Illustrations viii
Acknowledgements xi
INTRODUCTION - Re-imagining East German Cinema - Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke 1
CHAPTER 1 - The State-Owned Cinema Industry and Its Audience - Rosemary Stott 19
CHAPTER 2 - History and Subjectivity - The Evolution of DEFA Film Music - Larson Powell 41
CHAPTER 3 - ‘Fatal Attractions’ - Modernist Set Design and the East–West Divide in DEFA Films of the 1950s and early 1960s - Annette Dorgerloh 61
CHAPTER 4 - DEFA and the Legacy of ‘Film Europe’ - Prestige, Institutional Exchange and Film Co-Productions - Mariana Ivanova 85
CHAPTER 5 - Betting on Entertainment - The Cold War Scandal of Spielbank-Affäre [Casino Affair, 1957] - Stefan Soldovieri 106
CHAPTER 6 - ‘Operación Silencio’ - Studio H&S’s Chile Cycle as Latin American Third Cinema - Dennis Hanlon 127
CHAPTER 7 Deconstructing Orientalism - DEFA’s Fictions of East Asia - Qinna Shen 146
CHAPTER 8 - Transnational Stardom - DEFA’s Management of Dean Reed - Seán Allan 168
CHAPTER 9 - Walter Felsenstein and the DEFA Opera Film - Sabine Hake 191
CHAPTER 10 - Dreams of ‘Cosmic Culture’ in Der schweigende Stern [The Silent Star, 1960] - Sonja Fritzsche 210
CHAPTER 11 - The DEFA Indianerfilm - Narrating the Postcolonial through Gojko Mitic - Evan Torner 227
CHAPTER 12 - Defining Socialist Children’s Films, Defining Socialist Childhoods - Benita Blessing 248
CHAPTER 13 - DEFA’s Last Gasp - Ruins, Melancholy and the End of East German Filmmaking - Nick Hodgin 271
CHAPTER 14 - DEFA’s Antifascist Myth Revisited KLK an PTX – Die Rote Kapelle [KLK calling PTX – The Red Orchestra, 1971] - Sebastian Heiduschke 292
CHAPTER 15 - DEFA’s Afterimages - Looking back at the East from the West in Das Leben der Anderen [The Lives of Others, 2006] and Barbara (2012) - Daniela Berghahn 312
Select Bibliography 335
Index 357