Cinematic Berlin and the construction of identity and alterity in postwar Germany

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Since the early days of German film, Berlin captivated filmmakers. Its energy, creativity, and relentless transformations became central to the construction of a historical imagination of modernity and a German national identity. In 1945, as the former capital of a defeated criminal regime, divided and disputed by two world-systems, Berlin became an ideal cinematic subject to underpin cultural constructions of identity and alterity in postwar Germany. While the ruined city of the early postwar offered a medium to address the Nazi past and its legacy of destruction, the reconstructing city allowed the Allies first and the two German states later to parade their achievements and promote their respective ideologies. The cinematic Berlin of the postwar, caught up as it was in the escalating confrontation between East and West, responded to a large extent to the strategic utopian and dystopian visions that these political ideologies crafted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies
EditorsJeremy Tambling
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9783319624198
ISBN (Print)9783319624181, 9783319624204
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2022


  • Berlin
  • Rubble films
  • DEFA
  • German-German relations
  • Postwar cinema
  • identity


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