This book argues that there are constitutive links between early twentieth-century German and French film theory and practice, on the one hand, and vitalist conceptions of life in biology and philosophy, on the other. By considering classical film-theoretical texts and their filmic objects in the light of vitalist ideas percolating in scientific and philosophical texts of the time, Cinematic Vitalism reveals the formation of a modernist, experimental and cinematic strand of vitalism in and around the movie theater. The book focuses on the key concepts including rhythm, environment, mood, and development to show how the cinematic vitalism articulated by film theorists and filmmakers maps out connections among human beings, milieus, and technologies that continue to structure our understanding of film.
Heide Schlüpmann's classic study of early German cinema was published in German as Unheimlichkeit des Blicks: Das Drama des Frühen deutschen Kinos in 1990. For the first time in English, this translation makes available her feminist examination of German cinema and Germany in the sociopolitical context of Wilhelmine society. By examining then-unknown pre-World War I narrative films, this study paints a picture of the conflicted early years of the German cinema. During this period cinema and film production were able to develop independently from the cultural bourgeoisie and relied on those forces excluded from high "culture": technology, business, performers, showmen, and actors. In cinema, the dime novel and kitsch were exhibited for all, and the internationalism of modernity prevailed over the prevailing nationalism of the period.
Featuring a foreword by film scholar Miriam Hansen and a new afterword by Schlüpmann, this volume performs a critical perusal of film commentary and offers an in-depth look at little-known films in early German cinema.