The New German Cinema movement lasted throughout the late 1960’s to the 1980’s. This movement was a sudden emergence of new generation German director’s who produced a number of small low budget avantgarde films that caught the attention of art house audiences and enabled these directors into better financed productions which were even backed by the US studios. Such directors involved in the New German Cinema movement were Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, VolkerSchlondorff, and Wim Wenders; as these young set of filmmakers sparked a renaissance in German cinema and their success encouraged other German filmmakers to make such quality stories. The New German Cinema was influenced by other earlier film movements like the French New Wave, British Kitchen Sink realism, and Italian Neorealism with references to the well-established genres of The Hollywood cinema. These films mostly contained low budget stories that represented contemporary German life as several of these filmmakers were specifically concerned with asking questions about national identity, German history, and the gritty and bleak experiences of modern struggles. Many of the young German filmmakers were strongly political. Disdainful of “artisty” and “entertainment”, they believed that the film should serve as a forum for the dissemination of ideas and philosophies which challenged the established order. As a reaction to the artistic and economic stagnation of German cinema, these group of young German film-makers issued the Oberhausen Manifesto on 28 February 1962, which was a group that provocatively and confidently declared that “The old cinema is dead. We believe in the new cinema”. The Oberhausen Manifesto was a rejection of the existing German film industry and their determination to build a new industry founded on artistic excellence rather than commercial dictates; most famously with Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul and Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire. The artistically ambitious and socially critical films of the New German Cinema strove to delineate themselves from what had gone before and the works of auteur filmmakers such as Kluge and Fassbinder are examples of this, although Fassbinder in his use of stars from German cinema history also sought a reconciliation between the new cinema and the old. In addition, a distinction is sometimes drawn between the avantgarde “Young German Cinema” of the 1960s and the more accessible “New German Cinema” of the 1970s. The early 60’s movement was rejected by the great majority of German filmgoers and was a financial disaster. This attempt at a new, meaningful film culture, although not economically successful, did eventually evolve into a strong industry that was receiving international acclaim by the late 60s and on into the 70s. The New German Cinema also allowed for female directors to come to the fore and for the development of a feminist cinema which encompassed the works of directors such as Sanders-Brahms, Helke Sander, and von Trotta.
“We’ve got a truck on fire…can’t find the switch to turn the ski lift off…and can’t stop the dancing chicken…Send an electrician.” In one of the most strangest and fascinating art films ever made, Werner Herzog’s Stroszek tells the simple story of a mentally disabled ex-con, a tiny quirky best friend and a girlfriend who is […]
Werner Herzog’s masterful film The Engima of Kaspar Hauser tells a historical true story about a young man barely able to speak and walk, who mysteriously appeared in town square early one morning during the year 1828 in Nuremberg, Germany. The townspeople found him clutching the Bible in one hand and an anonymous letter in the […]
The first shot of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun you see an allied bombing raid during a small wedding ceremony still in progress, as the bride and groom are scrambling for safety. It is the year 1943 and the groom is a soldier named Hermann Braun who must return to the front that very next morning, leaving […]
Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo is a beautiful constructed masterpiece of gigantic epic proportions and is one of the boldest and bravest films in the history of the cinema. A film project like this could never be made today, because the film-making process that Herzog and his cast and crew endured was grueling, risky and at times life threatening, filming on location in the jungles […]
“Dedicated to all the former angels but especially to Yasujiro, Francois and Andrei…” German director Wim Wenders Wings of Desire is one of the most spiritual and poetic films ever made. When watching the hypnotic beauty of the film it quickly gets you seduced under it’s spell and you become entranced by its visual beauty and meditating power. The angels in the film are […]
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