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Title:“Alles ist nur Wörter”: the critique of German history in Michael Stock’s Prinz in Hölleland
Author(s):Mahoney, William
Advisor(s):Hilger, Stephanie M.
Department / Program:Germanic Languages & Lit
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):German cinema
German culture
fairy tales
queer cinema
cultural history
Abstract:During the 1990s Queer Cinema exploded onto the independent film scene in North America. Most film festivals at the time featured several queer films that broke the boundaries of film-making techniques, conventional narration, and what was considered acceptable by mainstream audiences. By openly discussing topics such as homophobia, prostitution, and AIDS, these films represented a shift in the perceptions of homosexuality and gender by directors, critics, and audiences at large. These films were received enthusiastically in North America, yet the influence of German Queer Cinema on such movies was overlooked. Some critics made the connection between the two cinemas but never delved deeper into the possible influences that German film had on American directors. Why were the movies of Fassbinder, von Praunheim, and Treut, who made groundbreaking strides throughout the 1970s and 1980s, of no consequence to American critics? The reason lies in the fact that although Queer Cinema tries to be transnational, it is still very much rooted in the politics and social environment of the country in which it is made. In order to explore German Queer Cinema, I will research the long history of queer films in Germany, which spans the history of film itself. By looking at the history of queer film, one can gather vital insight into the social situation of homosexuality and gender of that time. I will pay particular attention to the works of German Queer Cinema in the 1970s and 1980s to see how the particular social situation in Germany led to the explosion of revolutionary films during this time. Most importantly, I will look at Michael Stock’s 1993 film, Prinz in Hölleland, and explain its portrayal the political and social problems of post-Wall Berlin and Germany. This film will serve as the cornerstone for my argument that German Queer Cinema is at its core a critique of society. Not only does this film delve into the social and economic complications for queer people in early 1990s Germany, but it also takes aim at Germany’s larger cultural history. By using a fairy tale to present the story of two queer lovers, the film utilizes centuries of German culture to explain the problems of drugs and homophobia in modern Germany. Prinz in Hölleland goes even further into German cultural history by paying homage to the Medieval and Renaissance-era works of satire by having a court jester character who points out the faults of people and society. Prinz in Hölleland marks a turning point in Queer Cinema. As the new millennium neared, queer films entered the mainstream. Although the problems of homophobia are still discussed in German films, the larger cultural critique that was so central to Michael Stock’s work has given way to a much more narrow temporal and spatial view of queer issues. By looking at this film and its predecessors, we can begin to understand how Queer Cinema allows for a strong critical perspective of modern life and how the past shapes our views of the world around us.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 William Mahoney
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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