Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable?

Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann (eds), Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998) 312 pp. [Korean translation: Seoul, 2002]

book coverIn the late 1960s, the cinema was pronounced dead. Television, like a Biblical Cain had slain his brother Abel. Some thirty years later, a remarkable reversal: rarely has the cinema been more popular. And yet, rarely has the cinema's future seemed more uncertain. Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? presents a careful and forceful argument about predictions that tend to be made when new technologies appear.

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The BFI Companion to German Cinema

Thomas Elsaesser (ed.), The BFI Companion to German Cinema (London: B Film Institute, 1999), 220 pp.

book coverThe BFI Companion to German Cinema is a concise and authoritative source of reference. Over two hundred entries on film actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, critics, film industry, film movements and festivals covers the entire spectrum of German-speaking cinema from the 1890s to the popular comedies of the 1990s.

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Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative

Thomas Elsaesser (ed), Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative (London: British Film Institute and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990) 424pp, ill.

book coverIn the twenty years preceding the First World War, cinema rapidly developed from a fairground curiosity into a major industry and a social institution, a source of information and entertainment for millions of people. Only recently have film scholars and historians begun to study these early years of cinema in their own right and not simply as first steps towards the classical narrative cinema we now associate with Hollywood.

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Fassbinder's Germany

Thomas Elsaesser, Fassbinder's Germany: History Identity Subject (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1996), 396 pp.

book coverRainer Werner Fassbinder is one of the most prominent and important authors of post-war European cinema. Thomas Elsaesser is the first to write a thoroughly analytical study of his work. He stresses the importance of a closer understanding of Fassbinder's career through a re-reading of his films as textual entities.

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The Last Great American Picture Show

Thomas Elsaesser [with A. Horwath and N. King] (eds).,  The Last Great American Picture Show (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2004) 391 pp, ill.

book coverThe Last Great American Picture Show brings together essays by scholars and writers who chart the changing evaluations of the American cinema of the 1970s, sometimes referred to as the decade of the lost generation, but now more and more recognized as the first New Hollywood, without which the cinema of Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton or Quentin Tarantino could not have come into existence.

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Thomas Elsaesser,  Metropolis (London: BFI Classic, 2000) 87 pp.

book coverMetropolis (1925) is a monumental work. When it was made it was Germany's most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang's increasingly extravagant ambitions (it took sixteen months to film). Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family.

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Weimar Cinema and After

Thomas Elsaesser, Weimar Cinema and After (London: Routledge, 2000) 472 pp.

book coverGerman cinema of the 1920s is still regarded as one of the "golden ages" of world cinema. Films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu and The Blue Angel are among the key films defining an age of Germany as a nation uneasy with itself. Directors such as Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau and G.W. Pabst, having apparently announced the horrors of fascism while testifying to the traumas of a defeated nation, cast long shadows over German cinema to this day.

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Studying Contemporary American Film

Thomas Elsaesser [with Warren Buckland],  Studying Contemporary American Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 309 pp.

book coverHow should the student set about analysing contemporary American cinema? This book takes an innovative approach to film analysis: each chapter examines the assumptions behind one traditional theory of film, distils a method of analysis from it, and then analyses a contemporary American movie. It then goes beyond the traditional theory by analysing the same movie using a more current theory and method.

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Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight Lines

Thomas Elsaesser, Harun Farocki: Working on the Sightlines (Amsterdam University Press, 2004) 379 pp.

book coverAnyone interested in how the technological, and now the electronic media have transformed civil society, could find no better chronicler of their histories, no more intelligent observer of their unexpected connections, no more incisive critic and yet interested party to the media’s epoch-making significance than the German filmmaker, installation artist and media theorist Harun Farocki. As a filmmaker, Farocki not only adds images to their stock in the world; he comments on the world made by these images, and he does so with and through images.

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European Cinema

Thomas Elsaesser, European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005) 566 pp.

book coverIn most countries of Western Europe, and especially in Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Italy, the 1990s have seen a lively debate about the future of national cinema traditions. No longer can one assume the existence of distinct national styles, as they were once confidently identified with Italian neo-realism, with France's nouvelle vague, the New German Cinema, or with internationally famous art-cinema directors like Antonioni, Bergman, Losey, Fassbinder and Greenaway.

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