I had just watched The Cabinet of Dr. Alas, it also sat on my shelf unread, along with some other thick critical tomes. Because films are a mass medium that take a mass of people to make and consume, they reveal the subconscious mind of its society. Kracauer wasn't saying that the creators were anti-Semitic or Nazi sympathizers. But there was something in the air, so to speak, that in retrospect made Hitler seem like an inevitable real-world outcome of these various forces.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Leonardo Quaresima Editor. A landmark, now classic, study of the rich cinematic history of the Weimar Republic, From Caligari to Hitler was first published by Princeton University Press in Siegfried Kracauer--a prominent German film critic and member of Walter Benjamin's and Theodor Adorno's intellectual circle--broke new ground in exploring the connections between film aesthetics, the prevail A landmark, now classic, study of the rich cinematic history of the Weimar Republic, From Caligari to Hitler was first published by Princeton University Press in Siegfried Kracauer--a prominent German film critic and member of Walter Benjamin's and Theodor Adorno's intellectual circle--broke new ground in exploring the connections between film aesthetics, the prevailing psychological state of Germans in the Weimar era, and the evolving social and political reality of the time.
Kracauer's pioneering book, which examines German history from to in light of such movies as The Cabinet of Dr. Now, over half a century after its first appearance, this beautifully designed and entirely new edition reintroduces Kracauer for the twenty-first century.
Film scholar Leonardo Quaresima places Kracauer in context in a critical introduction, and updates the book further with a new bibliography, index, and list of inaccuracies that crept into the first edition. This volume is a must-have for the film historian, film theorist, or cinema enthusiast. In From Caligari to Hitler , Siegfried Kracauer made a startling and still controversial claim: films as a popular art provide insight into the unconscious motivations and fantasies of a nation.
In films of the s, he traced recurring visual and narrative tropes that expressed, he argued, a fear of chaos and a desire for order, even at the price of authoritarian rule. The book has become an undisputed classic of film historiography, laying the foundations for the serious study of film. Kracauer was an important film critic in Weimar Germany.
A Jew, he escaped the rise of Nazism, fleeing to Paris in Later, in anguish after Benjamin's suicide, he made his way to New York, where he remained until his death in He wrote From Caligari to Hitler while working as a "special assistant" to the curator of the Museum of Modern Art's film division. He was also on the editorial board of Bollingen Series. Despite many critiques of its attempt to link movies to historical outcomes, From Caligari to Hitler remains Kracauer's best-known and most influential book, and a seminal work in the study of film.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 21st by Princeton University Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about From Caligari to Hitler , please sign up. See 1 question about From Caligari to Hitler…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 25, Jill Hutchinson rated it really liked it Shelves: film-music-history , non-fiction , reference. I have always been interested in the early German films and directors and this "go to" reference is a classic of its kind.
The author, a German film critic and professor who fled the Nazis, provides something a little different for the film student as he looks at the psychological meanings of certain films and why they were made at a particular time in Germany. He places each film in the era from the Great War to the rise of Hitler and puts forth his thesis of how each film was affected by the p I have always been interested in the early German films and directors and this "go to" reference is a classic of its kind.
He places each film in the era from the Great War to the rise of Hitler and puts forth his thesis of how each film was affected by the psychology of the German people. Many of his thoughts are logical and learned but the reader must always remember that these are only his conclusions with which one might not agree. Because of the age of the book, some of the films that Kracauer brushed off at the time have since been re-examined, such as Fritz Lang's magnificent Metropolis and are now considered masterpieces.
The book can be dense at times but offers some interesting aspects of early German film making at its best. View all 3 comments.
Jan 01, Printable Tire rated it it was amazing. I spent a great amount of time with Siegfried Kracauer over the last semester in a class I took on Weimar Cinema: along with this book, I also read a significant amount of his Weimar-era essays collected in the Mass Ornament. Of the books I read last semester, Caligari to Hitler was my favorite.
Apart from being a good writer capable of beautiful phrases and stylistic flourishes, I find Kracauer to be an interesting, though tragic, figure.
Schooled as an architect, he wrote intellectual pieces f I spent a great amount of time with Siegfried Kracauer over the last semester in a class I took on Weimar Cinema: along with this book, I also read a significant amount of his Weimar-era essays collected in the Mass Ornament. Schooled as an architect, he wrote intellectual pieces for German newspapers during the 20's, and was one of the first to take the ephemera of modern life movies, hotel lobbies, can-can girls as serious subjects worthy of observation.
To say he thought them worthy of observation is not to say he thought them of worth; but just as someone today might analyze reality television, selfies, or tumblr, he was one of the first at least in Germany to see popular activities as a mirror of the populace itself.
It is then interesting that being one of the Godfathers of media theory, Kracauer was in some ways a self-made intellectual, inventing some of the jargon of theory out of whole cloth. For example, his essays in the Mass Ornament seem to show him attempting to find for the modern age an Answer: no longer satisfied by the sanctity of church and alienated by the fleeting inhumanity of the hotel lobby, he never did find an Answer for How to Be in the modern age, and perhaps there is none.
Nonetheless, I would propose one answer Kracauer, with his genuine German earnestness and seriousness, could never accept: to live in the modern age, one must play-act. One must be a part of the church and the lobby, commit to both but never fully to either, for total commitment to either inevitably leads to a fascism of your soul. But Kracauer never seems to have thought of compartmentalizing, of adopting multiple identities for multiple roles. His way of thinking is too serious, and he sees to redemption though levity.
Caligari to Hitler was attempted years after the Third Reich had fallen, after Kracauer had forgone any versatility in his observations and had become more rigid in his judgments.
Before the Nazis had irrevocably conquered the hearts and minds of Germany but were quickly rising to such power, Kracauer had been offered jobs at leftist newspapers but had turned them down, perhaps believing, in vain, in the power of public debate over preaching to a complicit audience.
Perhaps like other intellectuals his view of the Nazis at that time was also one of incredulousness, for how could such an obvious conglomeration of buffoons and thugs and schmaltz win the hearts and minds of Germany? The same Germany that saw during the Weimar Republic an era of progressive ideas and sexual freedom became willfully conquered by authoritarian rule and fascistic ideology.
And Kracauer had seen his friends murdered, and been forced to exile himself to America. Caligari to Hitler was then his attempt, after the war had ended and with funds procured by the US government, to discover why the Third Reich had happened. He had found no answers to the modern age in the Weimar Era, but perhaps he could find why they had not been found, or rather why the final answer had become the Final Solution.
His perspective is often cycloptic, for he reads into everything a subconscious premonition of fascism. His perspective is then itself fascist, as he can no longer read any ambiguity into anything. At best, he comes off as obsessive, at worse, a conspiracy theorist. He wished leftist films had the same strength, but does not seem to grasp if they did they would not be good films, and in their own way fascist. He seems to want the impossible in films, some ideal cinematic progressive propaganda vision, and sees the lack of this vision, be it through popular and sentimental or artistic and ambiguous films, to be complicit with the rise of fascism.
And yet there must have been a solution. There must have been another solution, and I will find it if I search. Interestingly, he seems to be especially critical of youth films because the Nazis were particularly adept at influencing their disciples when they were young and in need of direction and discipline.
The fact that his quest is ultimately fruitless and desperate makes one believe that such an approach can only lead inevitably to heartbreak. Apr 11, Dara Salley rated it liked it. I almost had to buy this book on Amazon.
There was no copy to be found in the entire greater Columbia, SC library system. When I finally received the musty book there was a card glued to the back, listing all the dates when it had been checked out.
The book was checked out less than a dozen times since it was purchased by USC Beaufort in My checkout date was I almost had to buy this book on Amazon.
I tried to imagine this lonely book sitting on the shelf for almost two decades. When it was last checked out I was in elementary school and knew nothing of the joys of German expressionism and silent film.
I grew up, graduated elementary school and high school, got a B. All while it waited patiently in Beaufort. The magic of Netflix streaming has allowed me to gain a newfound interest in silent movies. After watching a dozen or so, I quickly realized that many of the best silent movies were made in Germany Metropolis, The Last Laugh etc.
That struck me as odd because nowadays, Germany is not known for its film industry. This period is also an interesting moment in German history; the rebuilding of the economy after WWI, the rise of socialism and Hitler.
I was intrigued and wanted to know more. He uses that word several dozen times in each chapter.
How German film foreshadowed Hitler
Ruediger Suchsland's Weimar cinema study is more an illustration of a prolix thesis than a groundbreaking docu. By Jay Weissberg. Still, image quality is strong enough to make a nice DVD. Related Stories. Weimar is both mythic and modern, the helmer rightfully states, and the myths are as much a creation of the present as they are a self-invention from the era. Henny Porten, the most popular actress of the time, is also missing. Suchsland brings in a few talking heads, including Fatih Akin presumably to make the docu seem more of-the-moment.
From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film
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