An illuminating exploration of the cultural politics of the East-West unification and its subsequent impact upon German filmmaking

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Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted April 2002.

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That Was the Wild East presents critical insight into popular film culture and art house cinema in Germany from 1990-1999. It examines box-office hits and cult films, such as the "Trabi comedies" and unification farces, which delighted local and international audiences, but which have been granted scarce critical attention up to this point. The first detailed account of the representation of German unification on film to appear, either in English or German, this work provides valuable and engaging source material otherwise inaccessible to non-German readers.
In her focus on a range of "unification films," Leonie Naughton analyzes impressions of unification fostered in films from the East and West, along with the comic and tragic anxieties these films attribute to life in the "new" Germany. The ways in which German filmmakers represented unification throughout the 1990s are discussed with reference to a broad range of recent German films, and Naughton examines both divergent and convergent cinematic impressions of life in a recently unified Germany by 1990s filmmakers.
Those interested in film studies and film history, German history and culture, as well as German unification and recent developments in German cinema, will find this book especially appealing.
Leonie Naughton is a research associate, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

"Naughton deftly sketches the nearly 50-year history of DEFA, the principal film studio in the "other Germany," and provides interesting poll data and exhibition statistics as background for her more ranging investigation of the role cinema and television played in East German culture."
---S. Liebman, CUNY Graduate Center, Choice, January 2003

- S. Liebman, CUNY Graduate Center

"Naughton's book is not only an important contribution to understanding developments in western and eastern films, but also gives perceptive insights into the wrenching upheavals East Germans encountered after unification."
---German Studies Review

- Jennifer E. Michaels, Grinnell College

"With impeccable scholarship, intrepid dedication and an Australian sympathy for the underdog, Naughton charts a story almost as uniformly down-beat and relentlessly depressing as so many of the films she discusses in such loving detail."
---Thomas Elslaesser, University of Amsterdam, Screening the Past (maintained by Editor) (Web), July 27, 2003

- Thomas Elslaesser, University of Amsterdam

". . . an informative and readable book that takes a bead on a still-evolving subject. It provides useful background information not readily available in English and should be required reading for anyone interested in cinema in Germany since 1989."

- Stefan Soldovieri, Univ of Toronto