The Aesthetics of a Collapsing Border

The Fall of the Berlin Wall in German Cinema

in East Central Europe
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This article is a diachronic study of the fall of the Berlin Wall as it has been represented in German fiction films from 1989 until 2010. The focus is on the formal features of the inclusion of the event in filmic narratives and on the reactions by film critics to the representations. By studying the aesthetics of representation and the reactions and expectations expressed by critics, it is possible to trace the ways in which the event has changed from a sacrosanct experience, vividly remembered, to a historical affair of little controversy. At the same time, the article also depicts a change in the representations themselves. Starting with gritty realism, the films turn to ironic hyperbole in their depictions of the fall from around 1999. After 2003, however, the unreal representations give way to generic dramas that adhere to strictly conventional narratives and aesthetics. This, the article concludes, coincided with the transformation of the memories of the event from communicative to cultural.

The Aesthetics of a Collapsing Border

The Fall of the Berlin Wall in German Cinema

in East Central Europe

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References

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 See also Marc Silberman (1994) for an overview of the documentary films about the events and Reinhild Steingröver (2014) for reflections by defa directors on the film ideas they were unable to realize in unified Germany’s film industry.

Figures

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    The fall of the Berlin Wall in Das Versprechen (The Promise, 1995), directed by Margarethe von Trotta.

    courtesy of studiocanal

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