GER340-000: German Film


August 27, 2014 - December 9, 2014
DaysTimeLocationInstructorGERCreditOPUS #
2:30pm - 3:45pm
Cox Computer Classroom - 230B
Schaumann, Caroline
Taught in English. History of German cinema and close analysis of selected films. May include silent films, New German Cinema, contemporary film. No knowledge of German language, history, culture, or background in film studies required.

Throughout the twentieth century, the city of Berlin has been the site most prominently displaying Germany’s divergent history, its transformations, and developments.  This also holds true for Germany’s film industry:  once a metropolis in the film production, in the 1920s Berlin became famous for its expansive UFA studios where world-class cinema was produced Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Fritz Lang, and Walter Ruttmann.  When Hitler seized power in 1933, the Nazis quickly took control of the film industry, setting into motion an elaborate propaganda machinery that drove much German and Austrian film talent abroad, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, and Marlene Dietrich among them.  After the war, Germany’s once illustrious film industry lay in shambles, and was slowly rebuilt in the two Germanies and divided city, although in distinct directions as the two countries themselves.  Since the fall of the Wall twenty-five years ago this November, Berlin has been featured in numerous postunification films such as Run Lola Run (1998), Good Bye Lenin (2002), and The Lives of Others (2006) that give testimony to Germany’s haunting past and persistent future.  The refurbished Babelsberg studios are also host to a number of current international productions such as Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Cloud Atlas (2012).

This course presents an overview of German cinema from the “Golden Age” of the Weimar period to the present, with a special emphasis on films that feature Berlin. Works to be analyzed include Gothic horror tales, futuristic visions, detective thrillers, melodrama, docufiction and documentary, propaganda films, rubble films, and comedies.  Focusing on the relationship between cinematic fiction, non-fiction, and historical events, we will consider the ways that make-believe worlds on screen refract and reflect real-life concerns in society. No knowledge of German history, culture, or background in film studies is required.  The course will familiarize all students with the vocabulary and concepts necessary for analyzing films.

  1. Timothy J. Corrigan
    A Short Guide to Writing about Film
  2. Eric D. Weitz
    Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy
  3. Brian Ladd
    The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape
Assignment/ExamDetails% of Total Grade
Film presentation5
Unannounced quizzes on readings and films15
Attendance and class performance20
EssaysThree Essays (15% each)45

The schedule of courses on O.P.U.S. is the official listing of courses, including days and times they meet and the General Education Requirements they satisfy. Students should use course descriptions as general guidelines. Course requirements, grading details, book lists, and syllabi are subject to change.