How will we live?: The spaces of post-war German cinema
The years between the conclusion of the Second World War and the establishment of the German states were a time between an ending and a beginning when the question ‘how will we live?’ was both pressing and contentious. In this time a group of new German fiction films were released that were set in the present or recent past and explored ways of living in radically altered circumstances and surroundings.
The way physical space is depicted in these films forms the basis of my research. Through attention to the spaces represented, I aim to further understanding of these films as vehicles that rehearse the ways the inhabitants of Germany could make their lives in this changed world – for instance, how they might set up homes together, how they could use the city streets, how they might entertain themselves. In the films, ways of living are shown at the level of the individual or small community, but these depictions also relate to larger contemporary debates about how Germany and her ruined cities might be rebuilt (or whether they should be rebuilt at all). In my research I will place the films within the context of contemporary discussions – both within the country and by the occupying allies – about how the inhabitants of Germany might live.