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Welcome to Reality. Constructions of German identity in Lichter (Schmid, 2003) and Halbe Treppe (Dresen, 2002)

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During the last 15 years, the city of Berlin has dominated German cinema as the metaphoric site of the continued negotiation of a new national identity. This article examines two films, Lichter (Schmid 2003) and Halbe Treppe (Dresen 2002), which are both set in the eastern border town of Frankfurt (Oder). It is argued that both films try to offer a counter-model to the Berlin discourse by constructing German identity as explicitly European rather than distinctly German, and by attempting to dissociate themselves from myths surrounding Berlin which defy a more objective perception of reality. The article analyses and compares the use of spatial metaphors and stylistic conventions which connect the films to European realist film traditions. The location of Frankfurt (Oder) sharpens the awareness for social divisions and, at the same time, shifts the focus from exploring an inner-German identity to the broader perspective of Europe.

Keywords: Berlin discourse; European union; German identity; city spaces; realism; social divisions

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: York University.

Publication date: October 9, 2006

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.  
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