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GERM4903 - Film in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

Value: 0.5 course units/ 30 MA credits
MA module code: GERMG048
Tutor: Dr Stephanie Bird
Teaching structure:
Assessment for GERM4903: one 2,500 word  assessed essay (50%); and one 2-hour examination (50%).
Assessment for GERMG048: one 6,000 word assessed essay (100%).
Available to: Final Year students and MA students

Module Description:

This module focuses on key films of the Weimar and Nazi era. Students will analyse major works from this crucial period of film, and by understanding the films in the context of the period, will also gain an insight into the debates of the time. These include the so-called Kinodebatte, Benjamin's and Kracauer's reception of film, the art historical traditions manifest in the films, and changing views on gender. Furthermore, students will engage with current developments in film theory.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:


  • Robert Wiene, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari.
  • F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu.
  • Fritz Lang, Metropolis, M.
  • Walther Ruttmann, Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Großstadt.
  • G. W. Pabst, Die Büchse der Pandora.
  • Josef von Sternberg, Der blaue Engel.
  • Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph des Willens, Olympiade.
  • Detlef Sierck, La Habanera; Zu neuen Ufern.


  • Anton Kaes, M (bfi, 2000).
  • Thomas Elsaesser, Metropolis (bfi, 2000).
  • Walter Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit.
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, in Illuminations (London, 1992).
  • Siegried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler (Princeton, 1947).
  • Lotte Eisner, The Haunted Screen (London, 1973).
  • Detlev Peukert, The Weimar Republic. The Crisis of Classical Modernity (New York, 1992).
  • Peter Gay, Weimar Culture. The Outsiders as Insiders (New York, 1968).
  • John Willett, The New Sobriety. Art and Politics in the Weimar Period. 1917-1933. (1978).
  • Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter and Deniz Göktürk (eds.), The German Cinema Book, (London, 2002).
  • Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide. Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (1986).
  • Richard Murphy, Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity (Cambridge, 1999).
  • Dietrich Scheunemann (ed.), Expressionist Film. New Perspectives (London, 2003).
  • Paul Coates, The Gorgon’s Gaze. German Cinema, Expressionism, and the Image of Horror (Cambridge, 1991).
  • Patrice Petro, Joyless Streets. Women and Melodramatic Presentation in Weimar Germany (Princeton, 1989).
  • Katharina von Ankum, Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture (London, 1997). Includes essays on Metropolis and M.
  • Brigitte Peucker, Incorporating Images. Film and the Rival Arts (Princeton, 1995).
  • Angela Dalle Vacche, Cinema and Pointing. How Art is used in Film (1996).
  • S. S. Prawer, Caligari’s Children. The Film as Tale of Terror.
  • Mike Budd, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Texts, Contexts, Histories (London, 1990).
  • Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Early German Cinema: audiences, style and paradigms’, in Screen, 33 (1992).
  • Eric Rentschler (ed.), German Film and Literature: Adaptations and Transformations (1986).
  • Matthew Biro, ‘The New Man as Cyborg: Figures of Technology in Weimar Visual Culture’, in New German Critique, 62 (1994).
  • Michael Minden and Holger Bachmann, eds, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis: Cinematic views of technology and fear (London, 2000).
  • Edward Timms and David Kelley, eds, Unreal City: Urban experience in Modern European Literature and Art (Manchester, 1985). Includes essay on Metropolis.
  • Thomas W. Kniesche and Stephen Brockmann (eds.), Dancing on the Volcano: essays on the Culture of the Weimar Republic (Columbia, SC, 1994). Includes essay on Metropolis and Berlin, Symphony of the Big City.
  • Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Secret Affinities’ (on Murnau), in Sight and Sound (Winter 1988/9).
  • Lotte Eisner, Fritz Lang (London, 1976).
  • Eric Rentschler, ed, The Films of G. W. Pabst (New Brunswick, 1990).
  • Joan Riviere, Womanliness as a Masquerade (1929).
  • Mary Ann Doane, Femmes Fatales. Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 1991).
  • S. S. Prawer, The Blue Angel (bfi 2002).
  • R. C. Rutsky, ‘The Mediation of Technology and Gender. Metropolis, Nazism, Modernism’, in New German Critique 60 (1993), 3-32.
  • Steve Neale, ‘Triumph of the Will. Notes on Documentary and Spectacle’, in Screen, 20/1 (1979).
  • Susan Sontag, ‘Fascinating Fascism’ in A Susan Sontag Reader (London, 1983).
  • Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Hollywood Berlin’, in Sight and Sound, 11, vol 7 (1997).
  • Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema (London, 1974).
  • Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies (Cambridge, 1987-1989).
  • Erika Carter, Dietrich’s Ghosts: the Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film (London, 2004).
  • Marc Siberman, German Cinema. Texts in Context (Detroit, 1995), ch. 4.
  • Robert C. Reimer, ed, Cultural History through a National Socialist Lens: essays on the cinema of the Third Reich (London, 2000).
  • Lutz P. Koepnick, The Dark Mirror. German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood (2002).
  • Christin Cledhill, ed, Home is where the Heart is. Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film (London, 1987).
  • John Fletcher, ‘Melodrama’, in Screen, 29 (Summer, 1988).
  • Anton Kaes, Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War (Princeton University Press, 2009).