A world of objects: Consumer culture in filmic reconstructions of the GDR

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In 1991 the infamous film and theater director Christoph Schlingensief made one of the first feature films about German reunification and the fall of the Wall. This was no teary-eyed reminiscence of a day whose consequences, both good and bad, still reverberate through German culture. In his horror farce, Das deutsche Kettensdgen Massaker (Vie German Chainsaw Massacre, 1990), Schlingensief created a vivid if crude allegory for East German fears about unification, as luckless East Germans crossing the border into West Germany meet a gruesome fate at the hand- and mouths-of a deranged West German family of cannibals. This grotesque caricature of unification-rich, fat West Germans consuming poor, defenseless East Germans-may have been designed simply to provoke, but the motifs of consumption and border crossings loomed over the fall of the Wall and reunification. The stirring images from the night of November 9, 1989-euphoric Berliners streaming across the border, East and West Germans celebrating together, dancing on the Wall-were soon replaced with images that quickly acquired the same iconic status: East Germans were shown in the media frantically spending their welcome money in West German stores, happily buying everything from televisions and VCRs to bananas. In contrast to this image of eager East German consumers, Schlingensief presented an economic reality that followed this euphoric wave of shopping, as West Germans began to lay claim to long confiscated property and West German businesses snatched up properties and businesses in the East. © 2010 by Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201. All rights reserved.

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The Collapse of the Conventional: German Film and its Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

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