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New German Cinema

New German Cinema

Written and signed by two dozen German filmmakers pledging themselves to “the new German feature film,” the 1962 Oberhausen Manifesto boldly announced the arrival of New German Cinema, with young, innovative, and politically radical directors taking up arms against the propriety of West German society and its failing film industry. In the late sixties and early seventies, filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg set out to create smaller, more independent and artistically challenging films to investigate the state of contemporary Germany (Schlöndorff and von Trotta’s The Lost Honor of Katherine Blum), as well as to grapple with the ghosts of the past, from the Weimar era (Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz) and the Nazis (Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum) to their aftermath (Fassbinder’s “BRD Trilogy”). Like other countries’ new waves, New German Cinema, which ended in the mid-eighties, embraced politically akin but artistically disparate directors with diverse interests, working methods, and spheres of influence, from the avant-garde (Kluge’s Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed) to major international productions (Fassbinder’s Querelle).