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From Baader to Prada The Representation of Urban Terrorism in German-Language Film

By Christopher James Homewood


This study analyses the response of filmmakers to the left-wing terrorism of the Red Army Faction (RAF) experienced by West Germany in the 1970s, and its legacy. At the height of its activity, the RAF violently shook the foundations of postwar German democracy with a string of politically motivated attacks against the Federal Republic which brought the state's democratic credentials into question. The first part of this thesis considers the intervention of the New German Cinema on the underlying political crisis\ud that the RAF unleashed, examining the filmmakers' attempt to catalyze a labour of mourning which connected contemporary left-wing terror to the unresolved legacies of\ud the Nazi past, but which the state had tried to close down. Ultimately, however, the filmmakers were unable to contest a wave of contemporary repression which threatened to engulf the memory of the RAF, and so by the mid-1980s, when not altogether forgotten, a dominant consensual understanding of the immediate past which spoke from\ud the perspective of the state had been set. However, in recent years there has been a renewed explosion of interest in this brief yet turbulent period in history, at the vanguard of which has stood the nation's filmmakers. The second part of this examines how postunification filmmakers have responded to this ostensibly dead socio-political and, for artists, aesthetic phenomenon. I examine how new films have engaged recent cultural implications and manifestations (such as the `Prada-Meinhof' clothing phenomenon) of the terrorist legacy and seek to innovate the ideologically entrenched cultural terms of remembrance which had settled around the group in order to offer a more nuanced, complex reading of the past

Publisher: School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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