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German Film 1 Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbous Die Frau im Mond (1929)

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Präsentation zum Thema: "German Film 1 Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbous Die Frau im Mond (1929)"—  Präsentation transkript:

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3 German Film 1 Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbous Die Frau im Mond (1929)

4 Copy of the lecture slides? me on

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6 Part I Introduction

7 The 4 lectures 1. Die Frau im Mond (1929) (screening Thursday 1st week, 7.45pm) 2. Zu neuen Ufern (1937) 3. In jenen Tagen (1947) (screening Thurs 3rd week, 7.45pm) 3. Das Mädchen Rosemarie (1958)

8 My general line Slogan: The meaning of a film is its use –Cf. For a large class of cases--though not for all--in which we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. Ludwig Wittgestein, Philosophical Investigations, §43 Occasions where film is used –Cf. We dont start from certain words, but from certain occasions or activities. (p. 3) Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief (1938, published 1966)

9 More on my general line Just focusing on reception, conditions of distribution v. looking at developing conventions of narrative cinema. Ordinary Language of film –Cf. Our common stock of words embodies all th edistinctions men have found worth drawing, and the connexions they have found worth marking, in lifetimes of many generations –J. L. Austin, A Pleas for Excuses, Philosophical Papers 3rd ed., p. 182 Narrative cinema: film used for reflecting on our reasons for doing things –Cf. Heidegger, Being and Time, §18. Encountering things as part of a purpose, towards an aim. Always already involved in reasons for doing things

10 1st example: A film from 1929 –Transition from silent to sound (Ich küsse ihre Hand, Madame premiere 17 Jan 1929) –Pre-Wall St crash/political success of NSDAP –Material easily available: Gandert, Gero, ed. Der Film Der Weimarer Republik 1929: Ein Handbuch Der Zeitgenössischen Kritik. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1993

11 Lang/Harbou Die Frau im Mond Lang/Harbous last silent film Popular success plus Critical engagement with developing conventions of narrative cinema Question of the right sort of narrative explicitly addressed in the reception

12 Frau im Mond: the plot Helius disappointed in love embarking on moon voyage with Manfeldt. Evil financial syndicate trying to gain access to gold reserves on the moon

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15 Part II Reception of Lang and Harbous film

16 Reception of the film Der ganze Phantasterei der Vorgeschichte und die ganze Utopie der Mondfahrt scheint nur in Szene gesetzt, damit sich die beiden endlich finden […]. Die Liebesgeschichte vermag den großen Apparat nicht zu durchdringen. D. "Frau Im Mond. Ufa-Palast Am Zoo." Der Abend, 16th October 1929 The cosmic enterprise was staged with a surprising veracity of vision; the plot was pitiable for its emotional shortcomings. Kracauer, Siegried. From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of German Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947, p Ziese, Max. "Fritz Lang: Frau Im Mond." Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 16th October 1929.

17 More recent assessment of Frau im Mond Reactionary modernism? –Cf. Rainer Eisfelds afterword to Harbou, Thea von. Die Frau Im Mond. Edited by Rainer Eisfeld. Munich: Heyne, 1989.

18 Counter-example Asphalt (1929), dir. Joe May. Starring Gustav Fröhlich and Betty Amann. Reviews available in Gandert 1993.

19 Part III Reasons for doing things on the moon

20 Professor Manfeldts idolatry of gold reserves in Die Frau im Mond (1929).

21 Reasons for doing things in the novel »Wer wandert, der kommt ans Ziel […]. Ja, ja nur muß man den Ehrgeiz zu Hause lassen. Wer einfach wandert und wandert, der wird es zuletzt erleben, daß alle Dinge der Welt ihm entgegengehen. Sie kommen ganz sacht auf ihn zu und sagen: Da sind wir!« (Die Frau im Mond, pp ). »Ich habe die Wahrheit getan. Begreifst du mich nicht? Die Wahrheit ist, daß ich lieber mit dir in den Wüsten des Mondes sterben will, als ohne dich leben in den Paradiesen der Erde« (Die Frau im Mond, p. 206).

22 Intellectual context Heideggers Being and Time (1927) Critical commentary: Adorno, Theodor W. Jargon Der Eigentlichkeit. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1964.

23 The axis of action

24 Crossing the axis of action

25 Showing peoples backs

26 Cinematic traditions

27 Bordwell, David. The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. Berkeley: University of California Press, Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985

28 The material world in the foreground in sharper focus than the characters

29 Foregrounding objects

30 Administering medical assistance on the moon

31 Lunar exploration as a suitable subject for being filmed

32 Movement by or in front of the camera

33 Cultural context Neufeld, Michael J. "Weimar Culture and Futuristic Technology: The Rocketry and Spaceflight Fad in Germany, " Technology and Culture 31, no. 4 (1990):

34 Uses of photography Anonymous. "Ausstellung Film Und Photo." Berliner Börsen-Zeitung, 16th October 1929 ein riesiges Aufgebot von Effekten, deren Schauwert nicht allzu groß ist, mit innerer Leere. D. "Frau Im Mond. Ufa-Palast Am Zoo." Der Abend, 16th October 1929

35 Recent assessment Die Frau im Mond is a film in which Lang seems to bypass character in favor of a drama of technology. Gunning, Tom. The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity. London: bfi, 2000, p. 173


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