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Cannibals, carnival and clowns: the grotesque in German unification films

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Studies in Eastern European Cinema
Issue number2
Volume5
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)124-139
Publication statusPublished
Early online date22/07/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Film scholars interested in the responses to the collapse of the German Democratic Republic and subsequent unification have tended to focus on the comic and/or tragic narratives which reflect the challenges facing the population of the New Federal States, whether as citizens struggling to adjust to the new post-unification order or as citizens of an economically deprived region and all the attendant social and psychological problems. But a number of important films produced during the Wende have largely been neglected. Formally experimental, occasionally cryptic, and sometimes disturbing, these films demand reviewing not only because of their unconventional aesthetic, which distinguishes them from the other better-known films of the time and since, but because with hindsight, as this article makes clear, we recognise that they offer a critical index of the doubts and frustrations resulting from the East German state's collapse and its subsequent union with the Federal Republic. This article focuses on three films in particular (Letztes aus der DaDaeR/Latest from the DaDaeR, Das Deutsche Kettensägenmassaker/The German Chainsaw Massacre and Deutschfieber/German Fever) and considers filmmakers’ recourse to aesthetic forms, namely the carnivalesque and the grotesque.