Politics and the moving image: contemporary German and Austrian cinema through the lens of Benjamin, Kracauer and Kluge

Mukhida, Leila (2015). Politics and the moving image: contemporary German and Austrian cinema through the lens of Benjamin, Kracauer and Kluge. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis charts the trajectory of a strand of film-theoretical optimism in texts by Walter Benjamin (1882-1940), Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966) and Alexander Kluge (1932–) from different moments in the twentieth century; the empirical corpus looks to post-reunification German and Austrian cinema to find evidence of this theoretical optimism in contemporary filmmaking practices. The thinkers advocate the leftist-political potential of film to stimulate a critical mode of spectatorship, and are to varying degrees influenced by Brecht and the neo- Marxist politics of the \({Frankfurter Institut für Sozialforschung}\). The objective of this thesis is thus twofold. First, it illustrates the continuing relevance of the following principal strands in the film-theoretical texts of Benjamin, Kracauer and Kluge: the representation of the figure of the worker in the \(Arbeiterfilm\) genre; the possibilities and limits of capturing reality using different modes of realism; the imperative of challenging viewers in order to transform them from ‘consumers’ into collaborators; and, following on from this, notions of shock and distraction, focusing on Benjamin’s concept of the ‘Schockwirkung’. Second, it shows how this diachronic, neo-Marxist approach can continue to illuminate facets of the political in contemporary cinema by German-speaking directors in an age of advanced capitalism and digital reproducibility.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: German Academic Exchange Service, The University of Birmingham
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5669


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