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The misogyny of the Trümmerfilm - space and gender in Post-War German film

McKenzie, R. M. (2017) The misogyny of the Trümmerfilm - space and gender in Post-War German film. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Scholarly reviews of the Trümmerfilm1 have hitherto concentrated on the its redemptive qualities. In these readings of the films, the defeated German soldiers, Landser, or émigrés return to Germany and into the arms of their beautiful and faithful wives. The wives provide the safe space that the returned men need in order to be restored, reconciled and re-integrated into the new Germany. In this role, Germany’s women are responsible for ‘setting their men on course’ to rebuild the new nation and bring it out of its defeat. Robert Shandley has suggested2 that it is possible to view the original Trümmerfilm, Wolfgang Staudte’s 1946 film Die Mörder sind unter uns, through a genre lens, namely that of the Western movie. He notes that the genre expectations of this film were “thwarted” (Sieglohr, 2000, 99) by the intervention of the film’s female lead, but he does not carry this idea on by examining the gender implications of this thwarting, nor does he conduct a Cross-German study of the Trümmerfilm in its western and eastern forms to explore whether this is a trend. This thesis will build on Shandley’s comments and will first attempt to show whether the Trümmerfilm can indeed be seen as constituting a “genre” and then explore the implications of Shandley’s comments across eight Trümmerfilme, four from the western zones and four eastern zone. These films will be examined through the lenses of the Western and Kriminalfilm genres. These are used at Shandley’s suggestion and are genres that have clear sets of codes, spaces, gender relations and trope outcomes. This use of a genre lens reveals that male dominance of space is slowly ceded to the films’ leading women and the standard trope outcomes are “thwarted”, thereby contradicting trope expectations. The transgression of the expected genre expectations and ceding of the control of male spaces expose the implicit criticism of German women inherent in these films. The interpretation of the films thus changes from redemptive to critical and this study thereby exposes the misogyny of the Trümmerfilm.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Wolfel, U. and Sandford, J.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Literature and Languages
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages
ID Code:69832

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