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Cinema and Social Change in Germany and Austria

505 pages7 hours



German Fascination for Jews in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Ein ganz gewöhnlicher Jude

Myriam Léger

This chapter discusses Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film as the site both of an imagined contemporary struggle for German-Jewish identity and the construction of the spectator’s problematic involvement in it. As the Jewish protagonist unravels the powerful discourse of postwar German–Jewish relations in which he feels trapped, the chamber-drama style of the film as well as its cinematography mark the spectator as a fascinated and implicitly German observer, who gazes at the protagonist’s intimate engagement with his troubled self-image. This film comments on the existing cultural alienation between Germans and Jews that continues to shape this discourse, and perpetuates a German fascination for “things Jewish.”

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