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[FONT=Arial]The German New Wave or New German Film (descriptors used interchangeably) dealt with a new sophisticated presentation of German consciousness: past, present and future. From the aftermath of WWII until 1965 German cinema was insignificant. The massive loss and trauma that Nazi Germany left the nation resulted in a cinematic library of "rubble films" (topical postwar works set in a destroyed Germany), "heimatfilm" (escapist tales of love and family set in the countryside), and Hollywood imports. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Germany boasted one of the most dynamic and influential cinemas in the world, with renowned directors such as Fritz Lang. With "Young Törless" German cinema would begin to regain significance. It paved the way for a multitude of other films that, in very different manners, would investigate the terms of the present by uncovering the losses, repressions, and denials of the German past. [/FONT]
From its beginning, the German New Wave reflected the major social and political concerns of West Germany. It focused either directly or indirectly on the moral and political problems of German history in a manner previously unexplored. Older Germans preferred to forget the Nazi era, younger Germans felt the necessity to confront the period. The filmmakers realized that they must, in one way or another, deal with this legacy because they knew their present was shaped by the experiences. Over the next two decades, three cinematic stages can be delineated: 1) short films which clearly announced the beginning of a new film movement. 2) feature-length films made after 1965 which were diverse in subject matter and expanding in volume. 3) New German Film with wide international appeal and financial success at the box office. "Törless" would announce a remarkably vibrant future for contemporary German cinema through its unnerving look at a darkened past.
In addition to Schlöndorff, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder is representative of the German New Wave. He wrote "Water Drops on Burning Rocks" He also emerged as one of the most important figures in the New German cinema. Fassbinder was already an extremely controversial actor, writer, and director whose theater pieces were considered daring and outrageous. Through Fassbinder's 1979 film, "The Marriage of Maria Braun", German New Wave would define a diverse group of films and filmmakers who would profoundly influence world cinema. Some film critics feel no national cinema has made as much of a contribution. New German Cinema symbolically ended with the death of Fassbinder in 1982 at the age of 37 from heart failure resulting from a lethal interaction between cocaine, sleeping pills and alcohol. There is debate as to whether the overdose was accidental or not.
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