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The 'lost child' as figure of tauma and recovery in early post-war cinema: Fred Zinnemann's The Search (1948) and Natan Gross's Unzere Kinder (1948)

Wӧlfel, U. (2019) The 'lost child' as figure of tauma and recovery in early post-war cinema: Fred Zinnemann's The Search (1948) and Natan Gross's Unzere Kinder (1948). Studies in European Cinema. ISSN 2040-0594

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17411548.2019.1615188

Abstract/Summary

The article examines the figure of the ‘lost child’ in feature films of the immediate post-war period. The figure’s enormous symbolic value as innocent victim and future generation, granted the ‘lost child’ a key position in post-war discourse, including films which tried to grapple with the moral and physical destruction of the continent after 1945. National film industries, particularly of the perpetrator nation, employed the ‘lost child’ for genre stories in which the post-war chaos is being mastered and a new, masculine national self is re-built. However, films made by victim groups outside a national context rely on the ‘lost child’ to broach the destruction of their identity by war and persecution. Analysing two films, Fred Zinnemann’s The Search (1948) and Nata Gross’s Unzere Kinder (1948), I argue that they use the child figure to deal with traumatization and make it part of the reconstruction of communal intergenerational relations. This does not result in stories of masculine mastery but in narratives that incorporate moments of trauma process emerging around destroyed mother-child relations. The films, encoding traumatization in film language, develop a rich cinematic language along questions of identity and form a first instance of posttraumatic cinema.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Modern Languages and European Studies > German
ID Code:83823
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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