Review Of "Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, And Film In Postwar Germany" By E. L. Santner

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This probing, well-written study relates the work of Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich (The Inability to Mourn, CH, Dec'75) to postwar German cinema, which functions as "an important and highly ambiguous site of communal and individual identity formation." Santner argues that Edgar Reitz's miniseries Heimat and Hans Jurgen Syberberg's films, especially Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland, are expressions of German mourning, not only for the loss of WW II, but also for "logocentric, phallocentric, onto-theological" behaviors complicitous in fascism. Reitz mourns "the passing of a world in which mourning was still possible"; Syberberg's film may be the "act of a deeply melancholic mind no longer interested in the stories and faces of the living." Santner asserts that both films work to turn the Germans into victims of the US culture industry. He incorporates the work of film historians such as Anton Kaes and Eric Rentschler, and recent research not always clearly relevant to his main topic. He points briefly to Christa Wolf as an artist whose response to the trauma of WW II, unlike that of Reitz or Syberberg, is a mourning in the interest of new tolerance. Only a few illustrations; no bibliography proper, but copious annotation. Compelling reading. College and university libraries.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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