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March 30, 2007

Der Golem, 1922: Dir. Paul Wegener

Der Golem




Der Golem DVD Cover

Eureka DVD Cover of Der Golem







The Golem

Introduction

This version of Der Golem was the third one to be made by Paul Wegener Der Golem (The Golem, 1914) and Der Golem und die Tänzerin (The Golem and the Dancer, 1917). Paul Wegener (1874-1948) had already directed and performed in several films which can be described as German art cinema, including Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague, 1913), Rübezahls Hochzeit (Rübezahl's Wedding, 1916) as well as the Golem films. According to Cathy Gelbin (see Kinoeye article in the Webliography):

“The first two renditions of the Golem legend,) transferred the story into the present. They are less remembered today. It was Wegener's third version of the material—this time recreating Jewish folk tales in a period setting—that became the highlight of his acting career, and that made its mark on cinema internationally.”

At the level of narrative structure the film fits in well with Toderovian analysis. Initially all is well then the status quo is challenged with an external threat. A response is elicited the threat seen off, to be replaced by a greater threat which in its turn is seen off and the situation returns to the status quo in a hopeful or ‘feelgood’ ending.

German Expressionist Film & World War 1

There are a number of strands and levels at which the film can be read including national trauma, issues of gender and ethnicity particularly anti-Semitism and a crisis of modernity’s vision of progress. Not all these themes can be adequately be dealt with here.

Firstly there is the theme common within expressionist versions of modernism of technology out of control fears of technological determinism. Starting with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the hubristic claims of Enlightenment rationality are explored. Here though magic is invoked as a method of creation for it is the creative act which goes back to Prometheus and perhaps beyond which is always at stake. In the aftermath of World War 1 the first machinic war killing combatants by the million proved to be the unprecedented unbearable flipside of modern claims to progress. Here myth and allegory combine through expressionist cinema to explore that which could not be spoken. How many German films are there after all, about the straightforward nature of the defeat of Germany in World War 1? Here one must look for the cultural lacunae as well as what was made.

At a social level the expressionist films of the early Weimar period expressed a social form of the ‘return of the repressed’ as Freud has it in his essay on the ‘Uncanny’ which itself a translation from the German word unheimlich. It is indeed the unhomely nature of Germany itself in the post war period which needed some form of cultural expression. Germany was a nation which was not one. Confusion and discontent reigned with its old system of government removed, with much of the Army on the old Eastern front refusing to believe that Germany had lost the war, with war reparations exacting a huge toll in a country which had been starved out by blockade combined with a crumbling situation on the Western front, social mayhem, social revolution from the left and reactionary Putsches from the right were an ever present danger.

Wegener’s Der Golem of 1920 appeared early in the Expressionist cycle of films with the at times awesome but cumbersome Metropolis marking the end of the cycle which had already gone beyond its sell be date as the muted audience response to Metropolis showed.

Was Der Golem Anti-Semitic?

Cathy Gelbin’s article (see webliography) deals with this issue head on firstly analysing the recent poles of critical treatment of the film from the perspective of this question of anti-Semitism:

“Dietmar Pertsch discusses the film in its visual context, noting that it largely escapes the anti-Semitic iconography of Jewish figures in concurrent European theater and cinema,[6] Paul Cooke considers the film an example of cinematic anti-Semitism.[7]”

This probably results in a complex answer. As Gelbin notes any anti-Semitism can’t be equated with the representation of Murnau’s Nosferatu creation as having stereotyped traits visually and also in its analysis of parasitism and specifically bloodsucking which could have been equated to Jewishness in the Germanic cultural imaginary and / or more immediately to the issue of reparations and particularly French presence in the German industrial areas in the aftermath of the war.

By comparison Gelbin’s Kinoeye (no relation) article sees the film as questioning and reversing the mythology of the money-grubbing Jew:

‘Abstaining from the dominant Shylock tradition of the cruel and money-grubbing Jew, the bribing of the pain-bent and emaciated gatekeeper of the ghetto by the arrogant Knight Florian instead exposes the Christian dominance over Jewish people at the time.[9] In reversing the notion of the Jews' financial hold over the Christian, Der Golem effectively undoes the most dominant anti-Jewish stereotype since the Christian Middle Ages’. (My emphasis).

I will admit to an uncertainty here. Close textual analysis is useful here for the Gatekeeper was hardly portrayed sympathetically. The close up of a framed hooked nose and the seeking hand through the framework of the hatch in the main gate seems to me to entirely accord with the dominant stereotype. Doing anything for money seems to be the dominant ideology that is signified. Closer visual analysis of many of the characters outside of the character of Low himself frequently reveals artificially hooked noses for example. This frame by frame level of textual analysis requires more time than I currently have time for but it seems pertinent to raise it as an area for closer attention as something for others to investigate on the course.

The next issue to be raised is the lack of ethnographic evidence about how audiences were reading this film. My own sense is that there is an ambiguity within the film. Those who have done some audience theory work will know that readings can be against the grain, negotiated preferred and dominant. My preferred question is to ask, how did Hitler and fellow anti-Semites read this film? Whether there is evidence in the archives of the right wing press at the time or even in more mainstream reviews is of interest and relevance here as the possibilities of interviewing contemporary audiences are more or less obviated through the ravages of time.

Rejection of Hybridity and the Maintenance of the Other

One theme which the film effectively supports is the rejection of cultural and ethnic hybridity. Illicit desire crossing the boundaries of ethnicity is specifically denied as Florian the aristocratic messenger / lover is hurled from the top of a tower. The strange magical powers of the Jews are combined in an unlikely way with astrology and necromancy to reinforce their ‘otherness’. This allows for the elision of the six-pointed star of David with the pentagram of necromancy. In footnote 10 Gelbin points out that Cooke in his book Paul Cooke, German Expressionist Films (Harpenden: Pocket Essentials, 2002) makes a mistake:

“10. The five-pointed star is not a Star of David, as Cooke falsely asserts in interpreting this imagery as anti-Semitic”.

It is interesting though that this potential elision of the two is specifically referenced in Metropolis for the Pentagram is highlighted on the front door of Rotwang’s house very ostentatiously. Again here a salient question is was there a common cultural reading of these two signs which elided them in anti-Semitic consciousness? Was there a common elision between magic and Jewishness in popular consciousness? Both represent different aspects of the other brought together in two seminal expressionist films, is this merely coincidence? As it is impossible to know from all practical purposes it is only possible to raise the question at the level of semiotics and the creation of meaning.  In a country deeply troubled at the level of identity at the time in terms of being an international pariah as well as the more obvious material issues of food, work and inflation audience response to these films is a vital missing link in the cultural equation.

Conclusion

Gelbin’s internet article makes some useful points about gender and this is a recommended first stop in the exploration of this particular issue although it clearly overlaps with the issues of national identity as well and arguably it is the instability of national identity within Germany at the time which is what makes the expressionist strand of German art cinema still resonate today. The film can be seen as one of optimism for the future through its representation of children. Their innocence and inquisitiveness was what finally disarmed the Golem. Playing outside of the gates of the Ghetto in the space between the Ghetto and the gentile city seems to open out a spatially represented possibility for the future an open space redolent with possibilities. Here one can think about the representations of children in Lang’s Metropolis and later in ‘M’. It is as though the appeal to think of Germany’s future represented through children gets ever more bleak epitomised through the words of the bereaved mother in the closing scene of ‘M’ as the Weimar becomes increasingly polarised.

 



Webliography

At the time of writing the following sites I consider the best researched academically or else are present because of the quality of their links. This is searched down to page 10 of Google.


The following entry by Cathy Gelbin on the Kinoeye magazine site (no relation to this Kinoeye) gives a useful historical analysis of the Golem tale and also deals with issues about whether the film can be read as anti-semitic. The article also deals with gender issues and as well as the legacy of the film.   

http://www.kinoeye.org/03/11/gelbin11.php

The 'All About Jewish Theatre Site'

http://new.jewish-theatre.com/visitor/article_display.aspx?articleID=802

Deutsche Film Portal entry:

http://www.filmportal.de/df/21/Uebersicht,,,,,,,,BEF9494ADD804C6FBFB2C578CDBE2F8E,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.html

BBC Article on The Golem

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A866892

Background on Jewish Legends

http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~kvander/golem/backgroundgolem.html

The Eureka edition page. Thi s link goes direct to the Eureka Video paqge on Der Golem. Eureka have propbably the best version available and comments in the main text are based upon this ediution.

http://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/classics/der-golem

The German film Archives entry. Der Golem is canonical and perceived as one of the best 100 German films:

http://www.german-films.de/app/filmarchive/film_view.php?film_id=262

Link to filmography of Karl Freund the cinematographer

http://www.german-films.de/app/filmarchive/film_person_view.php?film_person_id=512

Link to German Film Archive entry on Paul Wegener

http://www.german-films.de/app/filmarchive/film_person_view.php?film_person_id=1152

Link to the scriptwriter Henrik Galleen Forum

http://www.filmreference.com/Writers-and-Production-Artists-Ei-Gi/Galeen-Henrik.html


October 02, 2006

From Expressionism to Neue Sachlichkeit: Two Weimar ‘Art’ Cinema Styles

Recently film critics and historians such as Thomas Elsaesser , Pam Cook and Sabine Hake have laid down a strong challenge to the way in which cinema of the Weimar years has been represented as one of the ‘golden-ages’ of world cinema. Canonical films of the period are usually cited as:The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1919), The Golem (Paul Wegener, 1920), Destiny , (Fritz Lang, 1921), Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, 1921), Dr. Mabuse, (Fritz Lang, 1922 ), The Last Laugh, (F. W. Murnau, 1924), Metropolis _( Fritz Lang, 1925 ) _Pandora’s Box (G. W. Pabst, 1928). They have an importance which is within the canon of cinematic achievements but there is a cult mythology attached which has grown up around these films in which they are parodied, subjected to pastiche and recycled in post-modern video clip style as Elsaesser points out.

As a counter to the spectacular, psychologically inflected and highly subjective expressionistic film the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) film developed. It was an outreach of the New Objectivity artistic current running through Weimar cultural output at this time. This period is mainly associated with what are sometimes erroneously described as the ‘Golden Years’ of the Weimar Republic. This period lasted from 1924 after the Dawes Plan was instituted and lasted until 1929 and the dramatic economic collapse triggered by the Great Depression’ in the autumn of that year.

Economic crisis in the Weimar

The late Weimar period coincided with the coming of sound and the concentration upon Hollywood style genre cinema. More or less concurrently with the coming of sound was the massive economic depression which hit Germany following the collapse of the US stock market.

This depression deepened until late 1932. Ironically although the first signs of an economic upturn could be discerned, Hitler became Chancellor at the end of January 1933. This depression period saw the production of socialistic films such as Kuhle Wampe and The Threepenny Opera. The former was scripted by Brecht and the latter came from his reworking of John Gay’s highlty satirical ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ and both involved elements of epic theatre. The production of the latter disappointed Brecht and he started a law suit against Nero-Film who were the producers. For Brecht the intended political message had been de-politicised.

Expressionism

Lil Dagover & Conrad Veidt inThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Werner Krauss as Dr Caligari

Many of the canonical films form the core of cinematic output which is described as a film movement called ‘ Expressionism’. The term Expressionism with a capital ‘E’ comes originally from painting and theatre. It is extremely stylised in terms of its mise-en-scene; in other words the settings, camera angles and lighting. The lighting is strongly chiaroscuro (sharply contrasting areas of light and shade), and the settings strongly distorted version of reality as usually experienced.

Nosferatu: The Vampyr is killed by the light

The acting is highly stylised and the subject matter is macabre and or concerning ‘lowlife’ issues. Frequently analyses of these films have concentrated upon the idea the films of a nation reflect its ‘mentality’. This type of criticism or commentary often ignores the conditions of industrial production and slips towards notions of the auteur. As Cook points out Siegfried Kracauer, whose work ‘From Caligari to Hitler’ was to provide a benchmark of criticism for these films did start out from commenting on the industrial situation.

“… the German film industry was of course anxious to experiment in the field of artistic achievements “ Since in those early days the conviction prevailed that foreign markets could only be conquered by aesthetically qualified entertainment. Art ensured export, and export meant Salvation.”

Sabine Hake notes the gradual historical revision which has been taking place within academic writings about German cinema of this period. This writing has risen to challenge Kracauer’s analysis arguing that it is a psychologically teleological construction of German society. Teleology states the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology is “The attempt to explain social processes of social change by reference to an end-state to which they are alleged to be working, or to an ultimate function which they are said to serve”. (Penguin Dictionary of Sociology 4th Edition).

It is argued that Kracauer implies a situation of direct cause and effect between film and society and that the state of German society can be ‘read off from the films’. One critical task for course members will be to evaluate Kracauer’s work in the light of these arguments measured against their own readings of the films.

The other seminal contemporary critical work of this period comes from Lotte Eisner who identifies expressionist films as strongly romanticist and therefore deeply anti-modernist as well as being very ‘German’ foregrounding problems of identity as well as metaphysical aspects of space. Below Bocklin’s Tomb by Ferdinand Keller.

Bocklin
This is an argument which leads into concerns about the ideology of the sublime. There is a danger in Eisner’s approach that there is an underlying essentialism related to ‘national characteristics’ which divorces these characteristics from culural, social and economic circumstances. One possible task for the course team will be to explore the links with anti-modernism and romanticism more closely. The Old National Gallery in the Berlin State Museum is a useful site to visit where I obtained an image of. Bocklin’s Ilse of the Dead

Bocklin

As the introduction to the recent edition of Kracauer’s book makes clear, he was working under limited conditions and at the time had to focus upon a narrower range of films than perhaps he would have liked. It is also the case that he was being funded to search for explanations of Nazism.

Not all the films mentioned above were made in the Expressionist mould. Hake describes Murnau’s output as ‘poetic realist’ a movement usually associated with French directors like Renoir, during the mid to late 1930s. It has been suggested that the films of F.W. Murnau acted as a form of bridge between the Expressionist movement and Neue Sachlichkeit suggest Martin Brady and Helen Hughes . These seemingly diametrically opposed cultural influences are clearly present within Metropolis as Andreas Huyssen has noted.

A recent book Expressionist Film New Perspectives

Neue Sachlichkeit

Metropolis by George Grosz

The origins of Neue Sachlichkeit emerged in 1924. It erupted out of the left-opposition within the Expressionist-utopian Novembergruppe. This group was called the Red Group associated with what is frequently known as ‘Verism’. Painters associated with the ‘verists’ were Otto Dix and George Grosz & Max Beckmann. They were highly critical and used satire to attack the evils of post-war Weimar German society exposing the devastating effects of World War I and the consequent economic climate upon individuals.

A second term, ‘Magic Realists’, has been applied to diverse artists associated with Neue Sachlichkeit, including Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Alexander Kanoldt, Christian Schad, and Georg Schrimpf.

Rudolf Schichter depicting cafe society

These works are usually taken as opposing the aggressive subjectivity of German Expressionist art but avoiding political criticism. Some of the work by Schad was close to being pornographic. Unlike many of the artists from the Neue Sachlichkeit movement, who had their works displayed in the infamous degenerate art exhibition, Shad’s works were apparently celebrated by the Nazis.

The movement thus incorporated a range of political commitments and techniques whilst marking a shift in representational values. Art historion Paul Wood points out that Otto Dix, although critically aligned with the left, moved away from the subjects of war and marginalisation in an expressionist mode to a ‘meticulous even obsessive painting technique …...he applied successive layers and then erased all marks of manufacture. In doing this he was directly refusing the discredited subjectivity of Expressionism.’

Neue Sacklichkeit 1

Otto Dix describes his attitude to Neue Sachlichkeit: ‘For me the object is primary and determines the form. I have therefore felt it vital to get as close as possible to the thing I see. ‘What’ matters more to me than ‘How’. Indeed ‘how’ arises from ‘What’. Above the more non-political aspect of Neue Sachlichkeit whilst below there is a political edge. These differing approaches to ‘realism’ open up a vast and important area of aesthetics which cross-cut the left intelligentsia within Germany, with Brecht, Adorno, Benjamin, Bloch and Lukacs engaged in intense debate. These concerns are beyond the scope of this review.

Neue Sacklichkeit 2 The Political Edge

How far New Objectivity was an acceptance of the status quo derived from a ‘detached enchantment’ is open to challenge. Here it is useful to note the comments of the painter and artist George Grosz who strongly defended himself against what he described as the ‘Hurrah Bolshevism’ which wanted to see the proletariat presented as ‘always neatly brushed and combed in the old hero’s dress ’. Seeking to represent the conditions of the working classes as accurately as possible, Grosz derided the ‘false idealisation of the propaganda,’ which was emanating from the German Communist Party (KPD) of the time. This was the time socialist realism was becoming the dominant aesthetic form in Soviet Russia.

Paul Wood argues that paradoxically, that the more ‘realistic’ the art the more its social criticism appeared to be blunted. Rather than a social strategy ‘it represented an attitude of alienation from the actual lived reality’. It is in this sense that_ Neue Sachlichkeit_ can be seen as representing the truth underlying the superficial aspects of reality. The alienation represented within it can be seen as a critique of the contentment and new consumerist values of the stabilised German society through the hyper-realism which generated a sense of ‘unreality’ Wood emphasises. Wood also notes that Neue Sachlichkeit became strongly associated with photography. In the field of left wing aesthetics we find that for Brecht and Benjamin the pretence of documentary photography to represent reality needed to be undone through montage such as the work of John Heartfield compared with the photography of August Sander below.

Neue Sachlichkeit Phot by August Sander Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photomantage by John Heartfield

The film director most associated with New Objectivity or Neue Sachlichkeit and its celebration of technological progress is Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Hake suggests that New Objectivity also accepted the status quo in society. [This is an issue which can be researched in more depth on the course.] Pabst’s works deal with a range of social problems such as; prostitution, labour disputes, inflation and marital problems, as well as revolutionary politics argues Hake: ‘Significantly the same principle of detached enchantment guides the visual representation of women, interiors, and the objects of everyday life. Yet the realism that distinguishes Pabst’s approach to camerawork and mise-en-scene also accommodates more voyeuristic and fetishistic scenarios.’ Bearing the last part of this comment in mind it may be useful to compare Pabst’s voyeurism with the work of people like Schad. Below images from Pabst’s Joyless Streets & Pandora’s Box.

Greta Garbo & Grigori Chmara in Pabst

Hake sums up the contribution of Pabst as one who was committed to the progressive spirit of the stabilisation period. But through striving for technical perfectionism Pabst favoured the beauty of appearances through the creation of surface effects: ’Pabst during the Weimar period contributed to the new style of objectivity and factuality that was both provocatively materialist and profoundly consumerist in orientation.

Louise Brooks & Franz Lederer in Pabst

Hake’s emphasis ssems very different to Bergfelder and Carter who note Pabst’s independent productions in the last years of the Weimar republic including Westfront 1918 (Western Front, 1930), Kameradschaft (Comradeship, 1930), _Dreigroschenoper _(The Threepenny Opera, 1931).
Certainly at this stage Pabst seemed to be clearly antiwar. Given Brecht’s disappointment with The Threepenyy Opera this is a film which is worthy of a special case study and will be another possible task for the course team.

From Pabst West Front 1918

Pabst’s Die Freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street, 1925), whilst depicting the bad conditions of the working class had been criticised for a depoliticised individualism from the left. For the left it was deemed as a ‘pessimistic’ film. Whilst Hake notes an eroticism of the filmic image in Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929), Bergfelder notes the presence of the Jack the Ripper character in both Pandora’s Box and as ‘Mack the Knife’ in The Threepenny Opera seeing the Ripper as representing male insecurities ‘ that seems to suggest a German masculinity torn apart by the social and psychological legacies of world War 1’.

Bergfelder also notes the representations of misogynist aggression in the paintings of Dix and Grosz and in that sense the concern with crime can be seen as a representation of the chaos under the surface of contemporary Germany. Perhaps re-reading the films of Pabst through the ironic lens of the hyper-real, reveals Pabst to be more critically concerned with the mechanisms of capitalism than Hake allows. Yet Pabst chose to remain behind to work under the Nazi cinematic regime perhaps it was Hitler’s populism which seduced him perhaps it was an offer he couldn’t refuse. The reason is still an enigma today. It is a tension which will be explored during the course and through this space.


September 29, 2006

Weimar & Nazi Cinema Bibliography and Resources: Evaluation

Weimar and Nazi Cinema Resource Evaluation

Introduction

Any academically based site needs to have ats its heart a reliable and well mantained route into resources. Some of these sources will be signposts to highly specialised resources which may be in public or private institutions.

There are other simple resource pages consisting of a bibliography. a filmography and a webliography which are being continually updated and developed, part of your work will be to contribute to these. They are to be left as basic lists. It is in this space that comparison and evaluation will take place.

Why Evaluation

I am particularly keen to be evaluating available web resources. For somebody coming fresh to this area of study a Google search would turn up at times millions of hits on somebody like Fritz Lang. Many of these hits especially those on the first couple of web pages of a search are commercial ones.

It is important objective to turn this whole blog into a ‘virtual’ space where people from all over the globe interested in Weimar and Nazi cinema can visit. Whatever their current level of knowledge and viewing experience from ‘A’ level to postgraduate student, or non students interested in cinema, Germany, Europe their visit should be a good experience.

Course Task

One of the task for all the members of the course team is to work on developing this resource. There will be a graded annotation system from 1 – 5 stars. Before any stars are formally awarded there must be a minimum of 5 argued contributions for each entry and consensus must be reached. Prior to consensus there will be a provisional grade awarded. The key points of the argument will be set against the the entry. It will be possible to have comparative entries.

For example there can be a review of lets us say the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Fritz Lang and the Wikipedia entry on Lang. Where Wikipedia is deemed to be weaker the team may decided to edit the entry as a collaboration or else it can adress the issues by adding to work on Fritz Lang in the blog. If it is felt that the knowledge base is insuficient then a contribution via the Wiki discussion page may be entered.

This will be part of the formal tasks for the course. It will encourage independent research skills, increase the individual knowledge base, encourage collaborative learning and teamwork. Engage with Web 2 communication technologies, contribute to the global community of knowledge in a (virtual ) concrete way. It should also be fun and satisfying and give free reign to the pedant in all of us :-).

How to do this

1) If you have access to your own blog you can link into this one by linking in via the ‘blog this’ button. Alternatively you can add to the comments box which you will find below this entry. You will be able to add hyperlinks so that readers can directly access the resources that you have chosen to compare.

What can an Evaluation contain?

It would be useful if the level of assumed knowledge is identified. For example the Enclyclopedia Britannica article hyperlinked below assumes very little or no knowledge.

This book review is from an academic journal and assumes a much higher level of knowledge.

Some internet sources will also have embedded links. It would be useful if you can follow these links and make some assessment of whether they are useful and to whom they may be useful etc.

You should also comment on how well researched the resource is and you may wish to make some comments on weaknesses or strengths of the reaerch methods used.


September 26, 2006

Open Studies in European Cinema. Introduction

Introduction to the Blog

Initially this blog was designed as a delivery vehicle for my film studies course on Weimar and Nazi Cinema as a an experimental project with the intention that if successful it could be used as a model to deliver some of my other film studies courses.

This is still the main purpose of this site. however as I have learned more about blogging and as my thinking on blogging in an educational context developed I have started to place things on the blog which relate to other aspects of my working life. There is now a growing body of work on A Level Media Studies some of which is film related anyhow. There is also material on areas such as new media and newsbroadcasting. I hope that film studies studetns will check some of these out as they may have relevance to film in any case. There is now a separate introduction to the layout of the sidebar as I’ve collected so many feeds podcasts and things which I didn’t know existed previousl;y. The film material is near the top end which is what most of you need to know.

This is a blog about European Cinema

There are a couple of major objectives:
Firstly to create an effective educational vehicle for teaching European films Studies

Secondly using creative connectivity and links to work by students to make this site a premium website or collective of blogs which interested viewers, students, researchers etc will have as a key place to visit. This means having a range of materials and other links to quality and premium sites rrelating to European cinema.

Thirdly the work on European cinema based upon my courses has focused mainly upon the five major economies of Europe (Germany, Russia, Italy, France & the UK). This is in itself a huge undertaking and remains for the forseeable future the main developmental aim.

I hope you enjoy the course, the site and the possibilities and opportunities it offers, Ciao for now.

European Cinema, Lifelong Learning and New Media Technologies

It is designed to accompany my Centre for Lifelong Learning Courses on various aspects of European Cinema. It is hoped that a group project blog will eventually be established to accompany the various courses once everybody has become comfortable with blogging. This is all a part of an overall cultural planning educational project.

The course on offer in January 2007 is Weimar and Nazi cinema
Peter Lorre in M 4

A European Cultural Planning Project:
Creating European Cinema Studies Electronic Spaces

Cultural planning is about developing cultural initiatives from the ground up rather than having centralised dictats. One of the motivations for starting to develop courses about European cinema, was, that there was an audience out there who had enough interest and experience to want to develop their ideas. Furthermore they might want to fit their, probably eclectic, experience of European films into a more coherent mental framework.

Many organisations are struggling to maintain a lively and independent European cinema as this link shows.

We are now entering an era of electronic communications called ‘Web 2’. The underlying principle of Web 2 is the creation and maintenance of electronic spaces of participation and interaction in ways which challenge previously centralised models of the content & distribution of information. This link isn’t a recommendation, just an example of what is happening: http://www.socialtext.com/. What Web 2 achieves is the possibility to design and build projects collaboratively. The principle behind this is that lots of brains organised collectively around the same project area can be far more productive than the same number of individuals working in relative isolation. There is, in other words, an ‘added value effect’ in which both individual and society gain more: the infamous ‘Win-win’ situation.

A good example of this process in action was recent BBC coverage of the way a group of software enthusiasts were creating and developing an open source software web browser called Flock: http://www.flock.com/ . This was real face to face stuff alright, they even all brought their sleeping bags. You might wish to check it out. Currently I use Firefox but I’m going to practise with Flock.

The Course Structure

The Weimar & Nazi Cinema course 2007 will be different from the previous courses in that it is being driven by an underlying communications project. The project itself is the establishing, development and maintenance of a web-based resources and discussion which will act as focus for those interested in European cinematic culture both historically and for the future.

These electronic spaces will effectively be ‘owned’ by you as your contributions will be evaluated by both tutors and your peers. A key part of the project is to help develop an understanding and enthusiasm amongst a wider audience. As with any media project create and developing a target audience is fundamental. As producers of web pages, Wikis or Blogs you will need to bear in mind your target audience.

Dietrich + Jannings: Blue Angel

These electronic resources should be spaces which people visit for leisure and pleasure as well as information and active participation in the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Part of your learning over the term will be creating content for various electronic media and practising with the design available. Currently these are provided through University of Warwick and include Site-builder for creating a web-site and Blog-builder for creating your own Blogs. It is also possible to create a group Blog which I’m currently investigating. There will also be forums which will be kept internal at least for the present. It may well be that you feel they should be opened up. It may be possible to generate electronic quizzes and create an electronic quiz space. It depends what you want to do with it.

As with any course your contributions will be assessed in line with generic course requirements. Within those parameters your work can incorporate creative, design and planning projects relating to the electronic spaces. For example, you may wish to plan, and even hold, a real world event such as a day celebration of the work of a particular director which would be marketed through the electronic spaces.

Fritz Lang

It is always important to consider ways of blending electronic spaces with material places as physical presence and f2f are fundamental modes of human communication. Festivals and screenings, educational projects all have their place.

My planning objective is that this is a way of acting locally, to produce a contribution to communications globally, in ways which can be acted out locally in the future.


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The BFI Glossary of Film Terms

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/education/glossary.html#new-wave
screenonline: Glossary of Film and Television Terms

BBC Film Network

http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/
BBC – Film Network – Homepage

Land of Promise

Free Cinema

UK Film Council

http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/
The UK FILM COUNCIL

Malcolm McDowell Introduces British Free Cinema

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/mcdowell/tourmcdowell.html
screenonline: Malcolm McDowell on Free Cinema

Paul Merton Introduces Early British Comedy

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/merton/tourmerton1.html
screenonline: Paul Merton on Early British Comedy

Bill Douglas Centre

http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/bill.douglas/menu.html
Welcome to the Bill Douglas Centre

Vertigo: British based journal about global independent cinema

http://www.vertigomagazine.co.uk/
Vertigo Magazine – for Worldwide Independent Film

Deutsche Film Portal

http://www.filmportal.de/df/3c/Artikel,,,,,,,,STARTSEITEENGLISHSTARTSEITEENGLI,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.html
filmportal.de

The Berlin Film Museum

http://osiris2.pi-consult.de/view.php3?show=5100002920142
Filmmuseum Berlin – Deutsche Kinemathek

Goethe Institute London Film Pages

http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lon/kue/flm/enindex.htm
Goethe-Institut London – The Arts – Film

Expressionist film

German Expressionism

Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung

http://www.murnau-stiftung.de/index_static.html
Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

Eureka Metropolis

Eureka Nosferatu

Fassbinder Vol 1

Run Lola Run

Das Experiment

Lives of Others

Senses of Cinema

Bacon Visconti

Bondanella Italian Cinema

Italian Neorealism Rebuilding the Cinematic City

Visconti The Leopard

Rocco and His Brothers

Visconti's Ossessione

Neorealist Collection

Framework a Peer assessed Film and Media Journal

http://www.frameworkonline.com/index2.htm
Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media

Kinoeye. No relation to this blog. Cinema journal mainly focused upon Central & Eastern Europe

http://www.kinoeye.org/index_04_05.php
Kinoeye | Polish cinema | Vol 4.05, 29 November 2004

Cineuropa: A joint initiative

http://www.cineuropa.org/aboutmission.aspx?lang=en&treeID=879
Cineuropa – About us – Our Mission

Talk About Films: the Independent and Foreign Films Discussion Group Go to 'Invalid Account'

Invalid Account
Ourmedia RSS feed

The World in 2007: The Economist Go to 'The Economist'

The Economist
Audio content from The Economist magazine, including interviews with journalists and experts on world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

BBC News UK Edition Go to 'BBC News - UK'

Eureka Shoah

Lanzmann's shoah

Haunted Images: Film & Holocaust

Adsense 4

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