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The Blue Angel, Marlene Dietrich, and Mass Culture
208 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-84545-572-9 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (May 2009)
ISBN 978-0-85745-619-9 $29.95/£21.00 Pb Published (February 2012)
eISBN 978-1-84545-914-7 eBook
“Kosta’s book not only adds new material…, but performs the invaluable tasks of synthesizing and building on the massive amounts of writing that has accrued around the film, its director, and stars. This makes the book ideal not only for the collections of German Studies and Film Studies scholars, but also as a text for undergraduate and graduate courses. Kosta writes with sophistication and with a secure grasp of a variety of theoretical registers.” · German Quarterly
“This interdisciplinary study will appeal to German and film studies scholars as well as readers interested in question s of gender, visuality, and the history of film.” · Monatshefte
“By setting the Blue Angel in its broader cultural context, Kosta captivates the reader and provides important insights into cultural debates during the Weimar Republic.” · European History Quarterly
Josef von Sternberg’s 1930 film The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) is among the best known films of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). A significant landmark as one of Germany’s first major sound films, it is known primarily for launching Marlene Dietrich into Hollywood stardom and for initiating the mythic pairing of the Austrian-born American director von Sternberg with the star performer Dietrich.
This fascinating cultural history of The Blue Angel provides a new interpretive framework with which to approach this classic Weimar film and suggests that discourses on mass and high culture are integral to the film’s thematic and narrative structure. These discourses surface above all in the relationship between the two main characters, the cabaret entertainer Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) and the high school teacher Immanuel Rath (one-time Oscar winner Emil Jannings). In addition to offering insight into some of the major debates that informed the Weimar Republic, this book demonstrates that similar issues continue to shape the contemporary cultural landscape of Germany. Barbara Kosta thus also looks at Dietrich as a contemporary cultural icon and at her symbolic value since German unification and at Lola Lola’s various “incarnations.”
Barbara Kosta is Professor in the Department of German Studies and an affiliated faculty member of Women’s Studies and Media Arts at the University of Arizona, where she teaches courses on twentieth-century and contemporary German literature, culture, and film. She is the author of Recasting Autobiography: Women's Counterfictions in Contemporary German Literature and Film (1994), co-author of the first-year German textbook auf deutsch! (1990), and co-editor of Writing Against Boundaries: Gender, Ethnicity and Nationality in the German-speaking Context (2003).
Subject: Film Studies
List of Illustrations
Chapter 1. Mass Entertainment and “Serious” Culture
Chapter 2. Distraction, Deception, and Visuality
Chapter 3. Disillusionment and Esprit: Weimar’s Modern Woman
Chapter 4. The Seductions of Sound
Chapter 5. The Actuality of The Blue Angel: Dietrich, Germany, and Mass Culture
Fade Out: The Credits
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