New German Cinema: A History

Thomas Elsaesser, Author
Thomas Elsaesser, Author Rutgers University Press $14.95 (430p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1392-8
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
In this exemplary analysis of what is arguably the most vital national cinema since the French New Wave, Elsaesser, a British professor, defines New German Cinema as the fruit of government sponsorship of independent filmmaking that peaked during the 1970s. Works by its disparate talents, from Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders to Werner Herzog and Volker Schlondorff, are illumined by close readings here that adopt a variety of perspectives: political, biographical, historical, literary, generic, etc. Elsaesser's examination of German culture, customs and regional character is especially edifying. An equal triumph is his skilled unraveling of West Germany's unique film-subsidy system, which arose to fill the void of postwar German filmmaking; ironically, gifted artists of the New German Cinema had access to funding, but found it nearly impossible to market their films domestically, despite foreign acclaim. Illustrations not seen by PW. (May)
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