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Reel Socialism : Making sense of history in Czech and German cinema since 1989

Bechmann Pedersen, Sune LU (2015)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in English

Reel Socialism considers the representation of the communist past in Czech and German cinema after the end of communist rule. The study offers in-depth analyses of numerous feature films, from Oscar-winning box-office hits to half-forgotten art-house offerings. It takes account of the films’ historical and political contexts and thus provides a comprehensive assessment of communism’s role in Czech and German history culture since 1989.
Abstract
This thesis is a comparative study of the communist past as depicted in Czech and German feature films since 1989, or ‘reel socialism’. It is the first detailed study of post-1989 Czech history films and the first comparative study of German post-reunification cinema. It demonstrates that cinema has been a vehicle of similar sense-making processes in the two history cultures. Much of the research on cinema in Germany has treated the subject in isolation, blind to the commonalities it shares with other post-communist countries, while Czech post-communist history culture and cinema has been overlooked. The thesis employs three methods: economic analyses of the two film industries, looking at the potential for the production of historical... (More)
This thesis is a comparative study of the communist past as depicted in Czech and German feature films since 1989, or ‘reel socialism’. It is the first detailed study of post-1989 Czech history films and the first comparative study of German post-reunification cinema. It demonstrates that cinema has been a vehicle of similar sense-making processes in the two history cultures. Much of the research on cinema in Germany has treated the subject in isolation, blind to the commonalities it shares with other post-communist countries, while Czech post-communist history culture and cinema has been overlooked. The thesis employs three methods: economic analyses of the two film industries, looking at the potential for the production of historical films; meticulous neo-formalist studies of historical narration in dozens of feature films about the communist past; and genealogical studies of how certain aspects of the communist past are foregrounded and presented to contemporary audiences in feature films. The study draws on a range of media sources associated with the films (reviews, press books, posters, online discussion forums) to understand how the reception of filmic narratives has been channelled. Three themes in the production of ‘reel socialism’ are identified: the revolutions of 1989; the waves of post-communist nostalgia; and the process of coming to terms with the darker aspects of the communist past. Despite unified Germany’s supposedly unique status in the post-communist camp, the thesis concludes that the debates and sense-making processes surrounding ‘reel socialism’ have often been analogous and synchronous with the Czech case. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Hames, Peter, Staffordshire University, England
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Socialism, cinema, communism, history culture, film, memory, Germany, Czech Republic, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, 1989, revolution, retro, nostalgia, Ostalgie, coming to terms with the past
pages
328 pages
publisher
Department of History, Lund university
defense location
Sal C126, LUX, Helgonavägen 3, Lund
defense date
2015-05-22 10:15
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
58296565-becb-4be2-98fb-63514bef1c5a (old id 5276002)
date added to LUP
2015-04-24 12:13:25
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:09
@misc{58296565-becb-4be2-98fb-63514bef1c5a,
  abstract     = {This thesis is a comparative study of the communist past as depicted in Czech and German feature films since 1989, or ‘reel socialism’. It is the first detailed study of post-1989 Czech history films and the first comparative study of German post-reunification cinema. It demonstrates that cinema has been a vehicle of similar sense-making processes in the two history cultures. Much of the research on cinema in Germany has treated the subject in isolation, blind to the commonalities it shares with other post-communist countries, while Czech post-communist history culture and cinema has been overlooked. The thesis employs three methods: economic analyses of the two film industries, looking at the potential for the production of historical films; meticulous neo-formalist studies of historical narration in dozens of feature films about the communist past; and genealogical studies of how certain aspects of the communist past are foregrounded and presented to contemporary audiences in feature films. The study draws on a range of media sources associated with the films (reviews, press books, posters, online discussion forums) to understand how the reception of filmic narratives has been channelled. Three themes in the production of ‘reel socialism’ are identified: the revolutions of 1989; the waves of post-communist nostalgia; and the process of coming to terms with the darker aspects of the communist past. Despite unified Germany’s supposedly unique status in the post-communist camp, the thesis concludes that the debates and sense-making processes surrounding ‘reel socialism’ have often been analogous and synchronous with the Czech case.},
  author       = {Bechmann Pedersen, Sune},
  keyword      = {Socialism,cinema,communism,history culture,film,memory,Germany,Czech Republic,East Germany,Czechoslovakia,1989,revolution,retro,nostalgia,Ostalgie,coming to terms with the past},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {328},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x83aec68)},
  title        = {Reel Socialism : Making sense of history in Czech and German cinema since 1989},
  year         = {2015},
}