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This text reconnects M to its significance as an event in 1931 Germany, recapturing the film's extraordinary social and symbolic energy. Interweaving close reading with cultural history, Anton Kaes reconstitutes M as a modernist artwork. He also analyzes Joseph Losey's 1951 film noir remake.
Rich in implications for our present era of media change, The Promise of Cinema offers a compelling new vision of film theory. The volume conceives of "theory" not as a fixed body of canonical texts, but as a dynamic set of reflections on the very idea of cinema and the possibilities once associated with it. Unearthing more than 275 early-twentieth-century German texts, this ground-breaking documentation leads readers into a world that was striving to assimilate modernity's most powerful new medium. We encounter lesser-known essays by Béla Balázs, Walter Benjamin, and Siegfried Kracauer alongside interventions from the realms of aesthetics, education, industry, politics, science, and technology. The book also features programmatic writings from the Weimar avant-garde and from directors such as Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau. Nearly all documents appear in English for the first time; each is meticulously introduced and annotated. The most comprehensive collection of German writings on film published to date, The Promise of Cinema is an essential resource for students and scholars of film and media, critical theory, and European culture and history.
Shell Shock Cinema explores how the classical German cinema of the Weimar Republic was haunted by the horrors of World War I and the the devastating effects of the nation's defeat. In this exciting new book, Anton Kaes argues that masterworks such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, The Nibelungen, and Metropolis, even though they do not depict battle scenes or soldiers in combat, engaged the war and registered its tragic aftermath. These films reveal a wounded nation in post-traumatic shock, reeling from a devastating defeat that it never officially acknowledged, let alone accepted.Kaes uses the term "shell shock"--coined during World War I to describe soldiers suffering from nervous breakdowns--as a metaphor for the psychological wounds that found expression in Weimar cinema. Directors like Robert Wiene, F. W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang portrayed paranoia, panic, and fear of invasion in films peopled with serial killers, mad scientists, and troubled young men. Combining original close textual analysis with extensive archival research, Kaes shows how this post-traumatic cinema of shell shock transformed extreme psychological states into visual expression; how it pushed the limits of cinematic representation with its fragmented story lines, distorted perspectives, and stark lighting; and how it helped create a modernist film language that anticipated film noir and remains incredibly influential today.A compelling contribution to the cultural history of trauma, Shell Shock Cinema exposes how German film gave expression to the loss and acute grief that lay behind Weimar's sleek façade.