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Modernization and the Wilhelmine Feature Film: Vision, Multitude, Motion

Haynes, Thomas; (2017) Modernization and the Wilhelmine Feature Film: Vision, Multitude, Motion. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Germany’s first feature films have been largely overlooked. As is the case with most European cinemas, the films of the early 1910s sit awkwardly between those made by the pioneers of the 1890s and the masterpieces of the 1920s, almost entirely obscured by both. While much has been done to understand the emergence and development of cinema in Wilhelmine Germany, and in particular its social, institutional and economic underpinnings, very little attention has been paid to the films themselves. Whereas the majority of textual analyses have been preoccupied with works that paved the way for Expressionism, as with the Autorenfilme and fantasy films, relatively little has been done about Germany’s popular cinema – those genres that were widely dismissed at the time but which had an enormous commercial appeal: comedy films, crime films and sensational melodramas. By learning from the new film history that close film analysis must be supported by an equally close understanding of broader social and cultural contexts and the history of film style, this thesis thus turns to some of these overlooked works both as effects of Germany’s delayed but rampant modernization around the turn of the twentieth century and also as works that belong to a medium undergoing its own significant transformation. By paying close attention to the stylistic devices and motifs that these films invoke, plus to the contemporary debates about the status of cinema and attempts to come to terms with modern experience more broadly, this thesis thus treats these texts as formal artefacts that are of interest in and of themselves, as records of a crucial stage of a medium’s development, which also enable us to register the impact of emerging discourses and practices at a time of widespread social and cultural upheaval.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Modernization and the Wilhelmine Feature Film: Vision, Multitude, Motion
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10024667
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