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Nazi Film Melodrama

Laura Julia Heins

Publication Year: 2013

Focusing on German romance films, domestic melodramas, and home front films from 1933 to 1945, Nazi Film Melodrama shows how melodramatic elements in Nazi cinema functioned as part of a project to move affect, body, and desire beyond the confines of bourgeois culture and participate in a curious modernization of sexuality engineered to advance the imperialist goals of the Third Reich. Rather than reinforcing traditional gender role divisions and the status quo of the nuclear family, these films were much more permissive about desire and sexuality than previously assumed. Offering a comparative analysis of Nazi productions with classical Hollywood films of the same era, Laura Heins argues that Nazi melodramas, film writing, and popular media appealed to viewers by promoting liberation from conventional sexual morality and familial structures, presenting the Nazi state and the individual as dynamic and revolutionary. Drawing on extensive archival research, this perceptive study highlights the seemingly contradictory aspects of gender representation and sexual morality in Nazi-era cinema.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I deeply appreciate all the support I have received over the years in completing this project. I am indebted to Brigitte Peucker, from whose teaching my idea for this book first arose, for her feedback on my writing and for her valuable professional assistance and advice. ...

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Introduction. Melodrama in the Nazi Cinema: The Domestic War

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pp. 1-12

The Nazi film industry, although the weapon of a regime founded on brutal militarism, produced at least ten times more domestic and romance melodramas than war films. Cinema was highly instrumentalized in the Third Reich, yet at first glance the chosen forms for the transmission of Nazi ideology may not always appear logical. ...

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1. An Aesthetics of Aggression: German Fascist vs. Classical Hollywood Melodrama

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pp. 13-44

Melodrama, as Linda Williams asserts, is the “fundamental mode of popular American moving pictures.”1 According to this account, almost all Hollywood films can be considered melodramatic, including “male genres” such as Westerns, war films, film noir, and action films. Melodrama, of course, can also be considered the fundamental mode of fascist film. ...

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2. The Nazi Modernization of Sex: Romance Melodrama

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pp. 45-94

According to a statistical analysis of the titles of films produced during the Third Reich, Frau(en) and Liebe were the most common nouns used in naming products of the Nazi cinema.1 “Women” and “love” were the terms deemed most effective for drawing audiences to the theaters, and presumably they were also considered the most effective ...

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3. Breaking Out of the Bourgeois Home: Domestic Melodrama

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pp. 95-142

In 1943 a stenographer in Frankfurt was arrested by the SS for circulating the following satirical poem among colleagues in her office: “The one who rules in the Russian way, / His hair styled according to French fashion, / His mustache cut in the English manner, / And was himself not born in Germany, / ...

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4. Germany's Great Love vs. the American Fortress: Home Front Melodrama

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pp. 143-192

When the United States entered the Second World War in 1941, the American film melodrama went to battle against the Nazis, and Nazi cinema continued to fight for supremacy over Hollywood. After he saw Hollywood’s first major home front melodrama of World War II, Mrs. Miniver (1942), ...

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Epilogue. Reprivatization after Nazi Cinema: Postwar German Melodrama

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pp. 193-204

In spring 1944, as the Reich was preparing for total war and nervously anticipating the Allied invasion, stories of Wehrmacht officers’ lavish lifestyles in occupied territories circulated among the German home front populace, disillusioning many who believed in the mythic power of an ordered and unified Volksgemeinschaft. ...


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pp. 205-224


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pp. 225-232


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pp. 233-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780252095023
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037740

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013