The Legacy of World War II in European Arthouse Cinema


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About the Book

World War II irrevocably shaped culture–and much of cinema–in the 20th century, thanks to its devastating, global impact that changed the way we think about and portray war. This book focuses on European war films made about the war between 1945 and 1985 in countries that were occupied or invaded by the Nazis, such as Poland, France, Italy, the Soviet Union, and Germany itself. Many of these films were banned, censored, or sharply criticized at the time of their release for the radical ways they reframed the war and rejected the mythologizing of war experience as a heroic battle between the forces of good and evil.

The particular films examined, made by arthouse directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Larisa Shepitko, among many more, deviate from mainstream cinematic depictions of the war and instead present viewpoints and experiences of WWII which are often controversial or transgressive. They explore the often-complicated ways that participation in war and genocide shapes national identity and the ways that we think about bodies and sexuality, trauma, violence, power, justice, and personal responsibility–themes that continue to resonate throughout culture and global politics.

About the Author(s)

Samm Deighan is a writer and critic based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Samm Deighan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 237
Bibliographic Info: 54 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8352-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4339-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Introduction: Memories That Scar 1
1. Collaboration and Survival in Italian ­Neo-Realism 5
2. Memory Beyond Consolation: French Cinema in the ’50s 24
3. Out of the Rubble: The Emergence of New German Cinema 40
4. French Cinema in the ’60s and the Myth of Resistance 61
5. Postwar Perversion: Italian Cinema in the ’70s 76
6. The Punishment Begins: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder 95
7. Pasolini’s Salò and Nazisploitation 112
8. Innocent Children and Kafkaesque Doubles: Jewish Identity in French Cinema 132
9. Apocalyptic Visions: The Holocaust on Screen in Poland 153
10. The World Gone Mad: Czech and Slovak Cinema 170
11. Ordinary Fascism World War II Films Behind the Iron Curtain 188
Conclusion: The Trauma of Remembrance 211
Chapter Notes 213
Bibliography 221
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

“An essential study of some of the most powerful and historically significant films ever made.”—The Film Stage