Music camp and style

To examine how memory and historical circumstances can be approached through style and music, I carefully analyze various films associated with the New German Cinema and its immediate aftermath. The book is divided into three interrelated parts. Each chapter proposes a particular stylistic strategy of remembrance with different implications for approaching history, memory, and difference. The first part of the book is entitled Historical Predecessors Melodrama and Modernism. There, in Chapter...

A delirious spread of surfaces

However particular to early twentieth-century modernism Anita's score might be, it constructs in tandem with the film more generally less a picture of historical authenticity than a delirious spread of surfaces, textures, and materials, something apparent in its treatment of body and movement. Here it is not so much the exact quotes and cultural citations that have relevance (is this Schoenberg or Webern Sally Bowles or Lulu ) as the pieces, bodies, and fabrics out of which such references are...

A symphony of ruins

An example of this complicity appears in the opening segment. Extreme long shots depict the skyline of Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany's financial center, from the dark of night to just after sunrise. Buildings shimmer like gold monuments reflecting the early morning sun the sky's mutating clouds and colors are stunning the camera tracks a plane and a bird flying overhead in the distance. Any reverie evoked by this serene segment, however, is immediately punctured, for it is impossible not be...

Against production

Anita refuses to tie its materiality of signs and icons to standard notions of production. Camp operates in much the same way a practice of consumption or a form of (re)reading made possible only in consumer cultures even its enthusiasm for bad taste raises the question of exaggerated consumption. By extension, critics put considerable emphasis on the place of failed or outmoded production when discussing how camp effects are produced. Consider the camp treatment of stars deemed past their...

Body camp

At the hands of directors like Fassbinder and Kluge, bodies were utterly deconstructed, often torn apart limb by limb, so as to leave little possibility of recovery. There were exceptions, to be sure (like Kluge's Allewisch), but it is clear that neither director cared to actualize fantasies of cohesion and wholeness, even if they were sensitive to their very power. As if following the dictum that the more pessimistic the outcome, the greater the need for alternatives, these directors passed...

Camp denaturalization expos and trash

Critics have spilled considerable ink trying to establish a definition of camp. Despite dissenting interpretations, some consensus exists around the idea that camp denaturalizes objects and ideas through a playful reworking of codes, conventions, and surfaces. Camp deliberately mismatches texts and Portions of this chapter appeared in two articles, Camp, Music, and the Production of History Anita and Rosa von Praunheim, in Queering the Canon Defying the Sights in German Literatures and Culture,...

Fantasy camp and history

Both camp and fantasy showcase their objects and artifacts, and both prioritize exploration over aim. Camp-driven films like Madame X and Virgin Machine are not goal-driven, especially when compared to the strict mourning work of Syberberg and others. To say that camp lacks a goal, however, is not to say that camp and kitsch are historically unmotivated or meaningless quite the contrary but that their function in these queer German films goes beyond guilt and atonement by exploring fantasy and...

Feminist camp and fantasy

Fantasy is a critical part of camp, and its mechanisms undergird Madame X's outrageous gestures, characters, and objects. Laplanche and Pontalis famously defined phantasies as still scripts of organised scenes which are capable of dramatization usually in visual form.44 Add sound and you've got cinema. Fantasy uses artifacts that are not usually the stuff of exotic or erotic play. Banal objects can become psychically charged, and their historical references awakened, when placed into these...

Hints of alterity

Raben's unwillingness to interiorize musical signs, or for that matter to associate them with any direct utopianism, is evident in his score of Fassbinder's Ali Fear Eats the Soul, in which Emmi (Brigitte Mira), a middle-aged widow, becomes involved with Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), a Moroccan worker much younger than she. The North African music that appears intermittently in its spartan score reasserts the rigid racial divides of the film's diegesis. The music offers no escape to Ali and his...

Identity nation and borders

Given the movement's obsession with identity and boundaries, it is scarcely surprising that films of the New German Cinema frequently addressed trespassing and border-crossings. In Wim Wenders's road movies they are thematic and geographical (Alice in the Cites, Tokyo-ga, Until the End of the World) with Schlondorff, embedded in their production histories (France would coproduce his first hit, Young Torless, and stay involved in internationally funded films like Un amour de Swann 1983 and...

Insatiable affect

Fassbinder deployed filmic means to create a very specific form of historical memory, among which his use of melodrama and violent juxtaposition of contrasts, sentimental pop songs and improbable coincidences have a strategically important place. Thus, the effects of melodrama, sentimentality and prurience form a part of Fassbinder's aesthetic and moral universe, prompting the question of whether they do not in his work constitute limits which any discussion of representation may have to...

Introduction

Strategies of Remembrance Style is not simply window-dressing draped over a script it is the very flesh of the work. The relationship between history and film style and music is a long and uneven one. It tends to heat up when exaggerated, nonverisimilitudinous forms are used with serious or sensitive subject matter. Critics found One Day in September (McDonald, 1999), the recent documentary on the Black September terrorists who disrupted the 1972 Munich Olympics, too MTV-like in its...

Introjecting history

As I noted in Chapter One, introjection is an important means by which autoerotic attachments are extended. According to Abraham and Torok, By including the object whence the name introjection the process expands the self, including the instincts and desires attached to the object as well.51 Constructing the self involves an ongoing system of introjections, a process they describe as gradual, slow, laborious, mediated, effective.52 Incorporation, by contrast, is a phantasmatic process that in a...

Introjection and incorporation

Critics have compared Freud's notion of mourning to Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham's concept of introjection. Introjection copes with loss by extending autoerotic cathexes outward towards it, thereby extending the self as well. (Like Freud, Torok and Abraham deploy the rhetoric of conquest claiming that the self advances, takes over, assimilates the object.) Introjection includes the instincts and desires attached to the object the emotions, relations with it, not just the object or loss...

Kitsch and camp

If a central concern of camp is the construction of psychic and socio-sexual identities (as in its send-ups of white heterosexuality), kitsch, by contrast, functions more as a consequence of economic and social structures, without which the categories of taste and tastelessness would be impossible in the first place. Camp may be failed seriousness, to invoke Sontag, but kitsch is failed judgment. Where camp is childish, kitsch is an irresponsible adult. It should know better and so is tied to a...

Kitsch and fascism

It goes without saying that kitsch is not always historically instructive, nor is it of constant significance to queer and gay cultures. With a variety of consumption contexts and audiences, it fulfills any number of different functions, as two film examples dramatize. One of mainstream cinema's more delightful kitsch sequences is Charlie Chaplin's balletic dance with the balloon globe in The Great Dictator. The sequence is famous for its total absence of dialogue we hear nothing but Wagner's...

Kitsch through the classes

Given that kitsch is usually aligned with a lack of awareness, education, urbanity, or sophistication, low-end examples are easy to name the range extends from velvet Elvis paintings to plastic cuckoo clocks. One of its interesting complexities, however, is how kitsch incorporates these sorts of objects as well as those of purportedly refined, upscale tastes and socioeconomic prestige, like opera, baroque architecture, and big fountains. Kitsch is an affectation of extremes, upsetting bourgeois...

Music and modernism

Musicologists generally reserve the term modernism to describe the atonal experimentation of the 1910s. The leader of that movement, Arnold Schoenberg, was, however, a fierce advocate of music's autonomous function and its need for trained ears to hear it. Thus, although musical modernism is historically framed this way and is usually associated with more exclusive practices, I retain the term modernism to describe developments occurring as late as 1933. For modernism's reactions to...

Music and the excesses of the new german cinema the eighties

Melodrama and the New German Cinema both stressed the ongoing impact of the past upon the present, a thematic obsession that characterized melodramas by Fassbinder, Sanders-Brahms, von Trotta, and others. Lost lives, destroyed ideals, homes, national, psychic, racial, geographic, and political identities took residence in a variety of cinematic material ghosts.5 These were irrecoverable pasts, to be sure, but ones that could not be kept down. This partly explains the lure of hysteria as an...

Peer Rubens Film Music for Fassbinder

Music admits that the fate of the world no longer depends on the individual, but it also knows that this individual is capable of no content except his own, however fragmented and impotent. Hence his fractures are the script of truth. In them the social movement appears negatively, as in its victims. Adorno wrote these words about Gustav Mahler, but they describe the collaborative work between Raben and Fassbinder with eerie prescience. Adorno maintained that Mahler moved beyond musical...

Pieces of opera opera in pieces

According to Kluge's voice-over, our emotions always want a happy end, yet the outcomes that operas crank out (just like war) do not provide it. There is no correlation of supply and demand. As power station or factory, the opera house overproduces emotions so that they become too bombas-tic or overcooked, to borrow the film's leitmotif of fire. Yet the section announced by the intertitle The Power Plant of Emotion is laughably brief. Something went wrong in the initial stages, we learn. Then...

Pieces props and play

In spite of its incessant association with interiority, melancholia shows the weirdly communicative, stylized component of articulating grief in short, its externalized dimension. An important aspect of its performative nature in relation to the New German Cinema can be explored through Santner's contention that stranded objects, the sundry relics of Germany's war and postwar experience, function as transitional objects required in both mourning and melancholia. The seemingly excessive objects...

Postlude kluges act of kindness

Had it not been for interventions like Kluge's in the 1970s and early 1980s, critical music studies of opera would not be where they are today. At the time, cultural critics were beginning to challenge opera's deadly grip on female characters. Feminist studies like Cl ment's Opera, or the Undoing of Women and Sally Potter's Thriller, a cinematic inquiry into Mimi's death in La Boh me, were both released in 1979, just four years before The Power of Emotion. The Power of Emotion practically...

Queer sounds

According to some critical musicologists, queemess may be reflected in forms of music that challenge tonality or its precepts. For others, it may be found in musicality tout court. On this point, Brett identifies the riddles and codes with which gay men are identified, like d oes he sing in the choir 113 (In this light, the remark in Dr. Faustus about the naturalness with which German men are musical has delightfully queer resonance.) Lesbianism's connection to musicality converged with special...

Shock music and modernism

Because the concept of shock saturates European modernist discourse until the end of the interwar period, it is not surprising that critics and other cultural workers were drawing connections between the arts and the shell-shock of World War I. (That framework recalls the argument that the Great War swept Europe's aesthetic slate clean, purging it of nineteenth-century excesses like romanticism, or banal bourgeois tastes like realism.) Shock was a crucial piece of what is widely understood to...

Sounding off camp

Critics have always given musical examples of camp, although it has usually been the style or context of the performance that established its campiness rather than the music per se a Busby Berkeley musical, ABBA, Swan Lake. Sontag acknowledged this in her few musical examples of camp classical ballet, opera, pop music. But she makes a significant exception C oncert music, though, because it is contentless, is rarely Camp. It offers no opportunity, say, for a contrast between silly or...

Surviving death to talk about it

With the exception of burial ceremonies, death usually abolishes the social differences ascribed to bodies when they had been alive. Paradoxically, as Elisabeth Bronfen argues, this obliteration of gender, along with all other socially constructed features, is represented in Western culture through a gendered body, the superlatively beautiful, desirable feminine corpse.57 Yet this superlatively beautiful female body is precisely what recedes in Kluge's work, and the body that supplants it is...

The difference of emotion

Objects are the opposite of emotions, we are told in a scene that closes on an extreme close-up of a wound near a young woman's eye, clearly the result of abuse. Kluge's voice-over says, Pain is personal property. Too much suffering turns you into an object. The facial injury of this unnamed woman offers the most direct visual representation of a wound in The Power of Emotion. In contrast to Corporal Wieland's in The Patriot, this bearer remains conspicuously silent. Elsewhere in the film, the...

The queer allegory

Kuzniar compellingly situates allegory at the heart of queer readings. Even traditional allegorical representation, she notes, questions language's ability to signify directly by highlighting disjunctures between sign and referent. Unlike metaphors, which try to form stable relationships between signs and referents, the piecemeal, metonymic process of allegory does not attempt to unify meaning in fact, it is not really out to produce anything. In this way it challenges notions of productivity...

The undoing of act

We might as well let ourselves have some fun with this limited opera house repertoire . If we can't replace it overnight and don't necessarily want to part from part of it we can play with it by giving the canonical works various new contexts. The film's final and lengthiest segment, The Undoing of a Crime through Mutual Cooperation, overturns the fatal undoings of all of these operatic final acts, and does so with enough irony and artifice as to also mock what Sirk called the emergency exits...

The value of emotion

Operas are not only cruel by popular demand, but, according to Kluge, are oblivious to simpler, less tragic feelings. We are told that our emotions always want a happy ending, yet in the marketplace of emotion, feelings in unhappy stories weigh more the trick is how to combine uplifting endings with unhappy stories. Rather than dealing with the grandiose emotions of opera, Kluge prefers to activate the small, illogical, unprocessed feelings that are usually inaccessible to social institutions...

Therapeutic shocks and pills or modernist and postmodernist divides

Postmodemity is modernity without the hopes and dreams that made modernity bearable. As I argued in the previous chapter, Santner's homeopathic-derived model of dealing with the past offers an alternative to the concepts of Vergangen- heitsbewaltigung and Trauerarbeit. His study leaves us to ponder a number of questions Who takes the homeopathic pills What is the loss Germans mourn How is this collective Germanness constituted What relationships connect psychic and subjective mourning with...

Teachers critics and corporals history in a blender

Hessian high school history teacher Gabi Teichert is one of Kluge's most endearing characters. She graces the cover of Rainer Lewandoski's Die Filme von Alexander Kluge, and Anton Kaes devotes a chapter to her in From Hitler to Heimat. Gabi, as she is usually called, makes her first cameo in Germany in Autumn as an archaeologist trying to extract secrets from German soil. The next year, she struggles to present history in a patriotic fashion in her own feature. In The Patriot, Gabi Teichert is...

The art of noise

It would be a commonplace to note that, even by omission, shock was most commonly linked to vision, availing potentially radicalized ways of seeing. Such was the case for European intellectuals and artists as diverse as Benjamin and Heartfield, Kracauer and Breton. Even Ernst Bloch, advocate of music's utopian expressiveness, maintained that visual montage would be an appropriate vehicle for representing utopianism since its juxtaposition of fragments . . . provid e multiple jumping off points...

Melodrama melancholia and cultural theft

The airing of the U.S. miniseries The Holocaust on German television in 1977 was a milestone in the history of the New German Cinema. Enormously well received by a mass audience, its virtues were fiercely contested among intellectuals and filmmakers. Edgar Reitz opined that the Americans have stolen our history1 and retaliated with an even longer family drama, Heimat. The first installment begins with a shot of a rock on which Made in Germany is written, emphasizing the homegrown, authentic...

The body as ruined fragment

In reality, every human being is a concerto of different capacities or elements. . . . Human images are composed of fragments they are fragments of ruins. . . . Each experience, the experience of resisting as well as the experience of a defeat, constructs little personalities that coexist. I want to develop a massive quantity of differentiating capacities, to differentiate the subcutaneous from the dominant aspects. Aesthetics was born as a discourse of the body. For Kluge, the human body is an...

Madame and melodrama

It is not for nothing that Ottinger's film and its dictatorial lead are named Madame X, for X is a generic marker that denotes an empty space or absence to be filled and interpreted. For Sabine Hake, it is the place of the enigmatic Woman, the marker of her universal exchangeability, yet also . . . witness to her threatening absence.34 Perhaps its real threat is the refusal it ultimately represents. X is also the signature of the illiterate, the place where a name should go, but does not. In...

Some speak others dont

Clinically speaking, trauma is an extreme form of neurosis in which patients suffer from reminiscences, as Freud and Breuer described hysteria. Past traumas get articulated via delayed, displaced symptoms acted out by an unknowing body. Just as Breuer and Freud once commented that the hysteric experiences her life as both observer and participant, Cathy Caruth claims that trauma produces a double telling36 between experience and articulation. We can see these kinds of divisions already taking...

The outsider trash nineteenthcentury romanticism and kitsch

With its Yiddish etymology, kitsch immediately suggests ethnic difference and alterity to white Germanic norms.8 Ludwig Giesz attributes it to verkitschen (to cheapen), and takes it from den Strassenschlamm zusammenscharren, literally to collect rubbish from the street, a point confirmed by other critics, who locate its origins in a form of street-sweeping or pilfering.9 According to Peter Ward, established art critics first used it in turn-of-the-century Vienna (a book called Der Kitsch was...

Shameless display and unearned sentiment

It can be argued that hysterics, mourners, and melancholics are all people who remember too much. Specialists in the past, they are consummate historians. Yet only the mourner gets it right, by any conventional measure. For this reason, I believe that those who get it wrong may have more to offer. For melancholia acknowledges the impossibility of overcoming the past and even questions the desirability of doing so. We might start by questioning its existence as mourning's dark, devalued other,...

Scoring the holy whore

Fassbinder's Beware of a Holy Whore is a film about the making of a film. Completed in 1970, it was not released in German theatres until 1992, well after Fassbinder's death, due to the high costs of procuring music rights.12 Like other films predating his melodrama phase (which began with The Merchant of Four Seasons in 1971), Holy Whore borrows melodramatic conventions rather than exemplifying the genre tout court. Its narrative is skeletal, and little happens in the way of dramatic twists...

The camp encounter

It should probably come as no surprise that the Fassbinder film that gets the most opprobrium is Lili Marleen, whose focus on things, not people, is announced by its subtitle, the story of a song. Loosely based on the memoirs of Lale Anderson, whom Fassbinder's friend and critic Christian Braad Thomsen calls simply a cheap variety singer,37 it concentrates on the singer's wartime affair with Rolf Liebermann, the Jewish administrator, conductor, and occasional composer who would eventually...

Werner Schroeter Music and Alterity

Der Bomberpilot Film

Sickness itself can be a stimulant to life only one has to be healthy enough for this stimulant. Aestheticism is the product of times without hope, of states that kill hope. Kitsch is the element of evil in the value system of art. What Nietzsche attempts to resurrect in the remark above is precisely the killed-off hope that Heinrich Mann militates against. In this chapter, I turn to an especially demeaned form of aestheticism kitsch which can offer not just a sense of hope, but new ways for...

Melodrama and womens modalities

In the 1980s, scholars considered melodrama a women's genre, due to its historical popularity with female audiences and the spectatorial engagement it was believed to offer. Although these assumptions have been nuanced or overtly challenged since then, it is important to stress their importance in European film culture at the time. Directors like Margarethe von Trotta, Jeanine Meerapfel, and Helma Sanders-Brahms were closely aligned with the genre as were male counterparts like Reitz who were...

The power plant of tragedy

Just as trauma and allegorical readings disable conventional narrative historical forms, so too does opera, at least in the hands of Kluge, whose extraordinary The Power of Emotion blasts open its nineteenth-century forms. Scattered across the text like so many interrupted arias, unidentified rehearsals, performance fragments, manipulated film footage, stereoscopic mattes, time-lapse set changes, ironic voice-overs, fictional interviews, dozens of operas, and other European art music become the...

Refusing redemption herr r

Strictly speaking, Warum l uft Herr R Amok Why Does Herr R Run Amok 1970 is not a melodrama, nor even a genre film, although it borrows heavily from melodramatic traditions. It tells the story of a lower-middle-class man, Herr R, numbed from all sides boss, coworkers, mother-in-law, neighbors, even, apparently, his wife. Without explicit motivation, he suddenly kills her as she is talking with a neighbor, whom Herr R also murders before his own suicide. This tale of a beleaguered bourgeois...

Postmodern departures rationalism violence and bodies

Thus, despite the references to modernist concepts such as shock and violence, and despite the similarities to earlier composers such as Eisler a canonical figure to any German film composer , Raben and his colleagues leave the impression that these references provided cultural practices to be reworked rather than retrieved. Whereas Eisler wrote that motion-picture music should not become the tool of pseudo-individualization,66 Raben, by contrast, loads his score for Lola full of what he calls...

The four seasons

The Merchant Four Seasons Suicide

Given this yearning for different pasts and for other ways in which the present may have worked , it would be incorrect to say that Raben's melodramatic scores are without emotion or affect, however withholding they may seem. Consider Fassbinder's Merchant of Four Seasons, which follows the story of Hans Epp Hans Hirschm ller , a produce vendor taunted by his mother, his memories, and his current imperfect, inescapable station in life. His marriage has little passion, and after he suffers a...

Film music and shock

There were reasons why film music seemed particularly suited to the task of the technologies of shock and dehabitualized perception.As Eisler put it, By virtue of its character of immediacy and music still possesses this character to a greater extent than any other art it should stress the mediated and alienated elements in the photographed action and the recorded words, thus preventing confusion between reality and reproduction, a confusion that is all the more dangerous because the...