New German Cinema: A History

Thomas Elsaesser, New German Cinema: A History (London/Basingstoke: Macmillan, and New Bruns­wick: Rutgers University Press, 1989) 430 pp, ill. (2nd edition, 1994).

book coverThe simultaneous international success in the 1970s of such film-makers as Fassbinder, Herzog and Wenders led critics to talk of a 'New German Cinema'. Thomas Elsaesser's book is the most comprehensive and illuminating study yet produced of this major movement in world cinema.

He shows how the development of public funding and cultural objectives ofr cinema in Germany led towards a highly self-conscious form of film-making in which each film sought to express its own conditions of production and define its own audience. He traces the effects on the films of a whole series of influences and pressures: of commercial, especially American, cinema; of the avant-garde; of art cinema; of television; and of the notion, so powerful in other areas of German culture, of the author as creative origin and 'star'. In a series of penetrating and sophisticated analyses Elsaesser also describes how the films relate to German history and contemporary social life. The book is accompanied by a thorough filmography and bibliography, and includes over 200 illustrations.


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