Entertaining the Third Reich

Illusions of Wholeness in Nazi Cinema

Entertaining the Third Reich

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 67 b&w photographs Published: October 1996

Subjects
History > European History, Media Studies > Film, Theory and Philosophy > Psychoanalytic Theory

In this persuasive reversal of previous scholarship, Linda Schulte-Sasse takes an unorthodox look at Nazi cinema, examining Nazi films as movies that contain propaganda rather than as propaganda vehicles that happen to be movies. Like other Nazi artistic productions, Nazi film has long been regarded as kitsch rather than art, and therefore unworthy of critical textual analysis. By reading these films as consumer entertainment, Schulte-Sasse reveals the similarities between Nazi commercial film and classical Hollywood cinema and, with this shift in emphasis, demonstrates how Hollywood-style movie formulas frequently compromised Nazi messages.
Drawing on theoretical work, particularly that of Lacan and Zizek, Schulte-Sasse shows how films such as Jew Süsss and The Great King construct fantasies of social harmony, often through distorted versions of familiar stories from eighteenth-century German literature, history, and philosophy. Schulte-Sasse observes, for example, that Nazi films, with their valorization of bourgeois culture and use of familiar narrative models, display a curious affinity with the world of Enlightenment culture that the politics of National Socialism would seem to contradict.
Schulte-Sasse argues that film served National Socialism less because of its ideological homogeneity than because of the appeal and familiarity of its underlying literary paradigms and because the medium itself guarantees a pleasurable illusion of wholeness. Entertaining the Third Reich will be of interest to a wide range of scholars, including those engaged in the study of cinema, popular culture, Nazism and Nazi art, the workings of fascist culture, and the history of modern ideology.

Praise

Entertaining the Third Reich offers us one of, if not the most intense and fascinating analyzations of German films during the Hitler era to date. . . . [A]nyone and everyone who turns a page in [this] book will quickly realize that this is an author that delves deeply into her subject matter, and takes the reader with her.” — Diane Cypkin, Martyrdom and Resistance

“[Schulte-Sasse] moves on to new ground in her exploitation of modern aesthetic theory, especially Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault, Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, and over and over again Slavoj Zizek. . . . [B]eautifully produced . . . [and] very readable.” — J. M. Ritchie , Modern Language Review

Entertaining the Third Reich not only surpasses the well-known analyses of the Nazi cinema and its predecessors, but also sets new standards in the domain of the analysis of ideological mechanisms at work in cultural products.” — Slavoj Zizek


Entertaining the Third Reich offers a trenchant approach to Nazi cinema and, in reading the complexities of this specific cinema, it puts a number of important theoretical concepts to the test. Providing new and exciting insights, Schulte-Sasse goes beyond the known clichés about many of these films and offers new takes on the theory.” — Dana Polan


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Linda Schulte-Sasse is Professor of German Studies at Macalester College.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1824-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1830-9
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