New German Cinema

WHAT it is…

A period of renaissance in film production in West Germany during the late Sixties and the Seventies that resulted in renewed international interest in German cinema. These artistically-inclined films helped abate the dry box-office run for German films and gave a boost to the export industry, as the films found audience across Europe and beyond.

WHO its pioneers were...

It has been widely noted that the New German Cinema derived its impetus largely from the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962, in which a large group of young short filmmakers decried existing industrial cinema and sought to make film an educative and expressive medium. Directors who comprise New German Cinema include Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Volker Schlöndorff.

How it is characterised…


Although, on an ideological level the films of the New German Cinema ran the gamut, many of these films were actively engaged in an introspection process, looking back at Germany's remote and recent past and analysing its present. Films regularly dealt with ideas such as the increasing spiritual bankruptcy of a newly booming country, the repressed remnants of an ignoble national past and the inheritance of political guilt, that boldly confront German history of the 20th century.


Much like its themes, the New German films did not share a single, unified aesthetic strategy. Although each filmmaker crafted his or her own personal style, it could be said that the movement was influenced significantly by both classical Hollywood cinema and the New Hollywood. The New German films experimented with established American genres such as melodrama and film noir, adapting them to specific needs, enriching their possibilities and widening their range of expression.

WHY it is important...

It has been widely noted that the New German Cinema helped put the national cinema on the international map, as the films enjoyed successful runs at art houses around the world. But, more interestingly, the brand of critically-adored artistic cinema that is being produced today in Germany (also backed by television studios) seems to be taking a leaf out of New German films, with their drive towards personal, historically-aware filmmaking.

WHERE to find it...

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun (1977) follows the serpentine fortunes of the eponymous heroine, who becomes something of a synecdoche for Germany, whose own trajectory during and after the war has been tumultuous. Rigorously directed, Fassbinder's film is an ambitious project that attempts to grapple with national history.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 2:07:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/new-german-cinema/article3458947.ece

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