Defining Nazi film : the film press and the German cinematic project, 1933-1945
Le Faucheur, Christelle Georgette
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This dissertation analyses the roles and functions of the German film press during the Third Reich and explores the changes and tensions that characterized German cinema and, by extension, German society during that time period. A close reading of three major publications -- a trade journal, Film-Kurier, a popular magazine, Filmwelt, and the regime's official publication, Der deutsche Film -- first challenges the traditional view of a monolithic, top down control by the Nazi regime. I show the extent and the limits of the regime's utilization of culture and media and demonstrate how different parties used the film press to pursue different, but not mutually exclusive goals. By delineating the film press as a more dynamic public forum than previously assumed, this study secondly informs us about the multifaceted uses and functions of the film publications, and about the changing relationships between the film industry and the regime, as well as the theater, the music, and the press industries. I combine a media specific approach--demonstrating the central role of film publications in articulating the contradictions within film culture--with an exploration of the media convergence in place at the time. I thus firmly position the film press at the nexus of politics, business, film professionals, and the audience, and uncover a lively, albeit restricted, discursive system, with theoretical and practical discussions about film, its achievements under the new regime, its weaknesses and the need for improvement. I focus on the three most discussed issues: the relationship between film and theater, between film and music, and, as a correlation of the two previous topics, the need to train a new generation of film professionals, the Nachwuchs. This dissertation thus traces an important moment in German film history characterized by sustained debates about political, technical, aesthetic, and social aspects of film. More importantly, it uses the film press as a mirror to some of the tensions that characterized German society along several divides such as the masses and the elite, the past and the present, as well as the contradictions in its treatment and representation of gender and sexuality.