The domestic war : film melodrama and German fascism / by Laura Julia Heins.
This dissertation examines the film melodrama in Germany from 1933--1945 in a comparative perspective, considering the narrative patterns, aesthetics, and ideological uses of Nazi melodramas in relation to the generic conventions employed in the Classical Hollywood melodrama of the same era. Chapter one provides an overview of the status of the melodramatic genre in the Third Reich, a discussion of Nazi views of female spectatorship, and an analysis of the Nazi melodrama's stylistic variances from both the Italian fascist and the Classical Hollywood cinemas. Chapter two concentrates on the Nazi romance melodrama and reveals how love stories attempted to form spectator desires to the benefit of Nazi imperialist aims. It argues against the common assumption that the Nazi cinema primarily supported a forcible return to traditional gender roles, showing instead that Nazi romance films offered falsified visions of modern and international lifestyles, positioned Third Reich culture as a liberation from 19th century sexual morality, and supported female participation in the public sphere in preparation for a war economy. Chapter three examines the domestic melodrama and argues that it was used by the Nazis in a genre-contradictory manner to effect a departure from the traditional nuclear family. Chapter four analyzes both the Hollywood and the Nazi uses of melodrama during World War II and shows that the American home front film portrayed the war effort as a defense of bourgeois domesticity, while the Nazi home front melodrama suggested that war provided a means to intensified erotic experience. Evidence of viewer responses to German film melodramas proves, however, that the Nazi management of spectator desire was not universally successful.
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