The University of Wisconsin Press

Film / Cultural Studies / Politics

Screen Nazis
Cinema, History, and Democracy
Sabine Hake

Wisconsin Film Studies
Patrick McGilligan, Series Editor

“Sabine Hake explores why filmmakers in various settings were, and continue to be, able to appeal to powerful emotions when screening the fascist past.”

—Lutz Koepnick, author of The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood

From the late 1930s to the early twenty-first century, European and American filmmakers have displayed an enduring fascination with Nazi leaders, rituals, and symbols, making scores of films from Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) and Watch on the Rhine (1943) through Des Teufels General (The Devil’s General, 1955) and Pasqualino settebellezze (Seven Beauties, 1975), up to Der Untergang (Downfall, 2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009), and beyond.

Probing the emotional sources and effects of this fascination, Sabine Hake looks at the historical relationship between film and fascism and its far-reaching implications for mass culture, media society, and political life. In confronting the specter and spectacle of fascist power, these films not only depict historical figures and events but also demand emotional responses from their audiences, infusing the abstract ideals of democracy, liberalism, and pluralism with new meaning and relevance.

Hake underscores her argument with a comprehensive discussion of films, including perspectives on production history, film authorship, reception history, and questions of performance, spectatorship, and intertextuality. Chapters focus on the Hollywood anti-Nazi films of the 1940s, the West German anti-Nazi films of the 1950s, the East German anti-fascist films of the 1960s, the Italian “Naziploitation” films of the 1970s, and issues related to fascist aesthetics, the ethics of resistance, and questions of historicization in films of the 1980s–2000s from the United States and numerous European countries.

Portrait of author Sabine HakeSabine Hake is the Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of numerous books and anthologies on German cinema and culture, including Topographies of Class: Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin.

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Of Related Interest:
Luis Buñuel
The Red Years, 1929–1939
Román Gubern and Paul Hammond

“An indispensable book for the Buñuel scholar and important to those interested in the history of Spanish film, the in-workings of the Surrealist movement, and the European left-wing political scene from the late twenties through the Spanish Civil War.”
—Julie Jones, University of New Orleans


Film strip in center with five cells reading 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in a cinematic countdown style

July 2012
LC:2011043917 PN
368 pp.   6 x 9   73 b/w illus.

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Paper $34.95 a
ISBN 978-0-299-28714-6
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"Hake’s innovative transnational approach and theoretical sophistication are accompanied by fine detailed analysis of specific films. She engages in dialogue with some of the newest and most interesting work in the theory of cinema."
—Siobhan S. Craig, author of Cinema after Fascism: The Shattered Screen

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Updated February 15, 2012

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