A German 'Heimat' further east and in the Baltic region? Contemporary German film as a provocation

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Abstract

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, unification and the subsequent reinvention of the nation, German filmmakers have revisited their country's 'Heimatfilm' traditions with a view to placing themselves creatively in the context of its intellectual and artistic heritage. However, German directors like Ute Badura, Volker Koepp, Andreas Dresen, Peter Welz and Andreas Kleinert, choose an Eastern setting for their films - rather than alpine or heath landscapes - as they ascribe symbolic value to the Baltic region and former German territories in the East. In many instances their films culminate at the sea which stands for the rough elements of nature as experienced in numerous maritime disasters in the untamed tidal waters of Germany's limited coastline. The ocean drives home the message that the only certainty in life is change. But why did they choose the contested Eastern German territories and the Baltic Sea? Is this reorientation and paradigm shift in the Heimat genre from the west to the east a rapprochement or, rather, a territorial claim? Are the shores of the Baltic Sea perhaps expressing a yearning for former German territories further east that were lost after 1945? This article will probe several interpretations of the Baltic shore as a cinematic motif.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-179
JournalJournal of European Studies
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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