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Oxford German Studies
ISSN: 0078-7191 (Print) 1745-9214 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/yogs20
Alexandra Lloyd & Ute Wölfel
To cite this article: Alexandra Lloyd & Ute Wölfel (2015) Introduction, Oxford German Studies, 44:3, 227-235, DOI: 10.1179/0078719115Z.00000000090
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1179/0078719115Z.00000000090
Published online: 27 Aug 2015.
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This special issue sets out to explore a figure that has always occupied a central space on screen—the child.1As researchers have begun intensively to study the child as a visual and cinematic focal point of contemporary culture, its configuration in a specific, German context can shed light on national tropes of engagement with the past and identity construction in the present.2 Given the enormity of such an
endeavour, this volume of Oxford German Studies offers another small step
towards a fuller delineation of the construction, function, and history of the child in German cinema. Consequently, we bring together articles which look at dominant trends in recent, namely post-unification German film production only. This shar-pened focus on a limited time period results inevitably in the historically very specific question of what perspectives on the new German reality films with children open up. At the same time, we hope that the volume will raise further and more general questions worthy of debate and investigation.
Within national cinema children have traditionally taken on an emblematic role, reflecting the problems or potential of the nation, a practice which is particularly common at moments of national upheaval and change. Thus in the immediate post-war period, the burgeoning film industries throughout Europe relied widely on stories about children to visualize the extent of moral, social, and political break-down. Alongside famous examples such as Roberto Rossellini’s Germania anno
zero (1948) or Géza von Radványi’s Valahol Európában (1948), the resuming
German film production, too, reverted to the figure of the child in films such as Hans Müller’s Und finden dereinst uns wieder (1947) or Wolfgang Schleif’s…
und wenn’s nur einer wär…(1949). Within the German context,‘[y]outh and par-ticularly youth crises served as discursive sites onto which to displace, and with which to distract from, the wider challenges of coming to terms with Germany’s bur-densome past.’3Accordingly, the two major child figures on screen were the patho-logized ‘feral child’who threatened the (re-emerging) order and the romanticized
‘innocent child’ who called for help and protection.4 Children thus came to
1 Vicky Lebeau,Childhood and Cinema(London: Reaktion, 2008), p. 7.
2 See for example Debbie Olson and Andrew Scahill (eds.),Lost and Othered Children in Contemporary Cinema(Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012); Karen Lury,The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairy Tales(London: I.B. Tauris, 2010); Horst Schäfer and Claudia Wegener (eds.),Kindheit und Film:Geschichte, Themen und Perspektiven des Kinderfilms in Deutschland
(Konstanz: UVK, 2009); Lebeau,Childhood and Cinema; Karen Lury (ed.), The Child in Film and Television, special issue of Screen, 46 (2005); Emma Wilson, Cinema’s Missing Children
(London: Wallflower, 2003). The recent launch of the research project‘Childhood and Nation in World Cinema: Borders and Encounters Since 1980’promises to add another voice to these discus-sions, see <http://childnationcinema.org/> [accessed 15 March 2015].
3 Jaimey Fisher, Disciplining Germany: Youth, Reeducation, and Reconstruction after the Second World War(Detroit: Wayne State University Press), p. 2.
4 Karen Lury uses the terms‘pathologized’and‘romanticized’to establish two ways of
con-ceptualizing childhood and children (Karen Lury,‘The Child in Film and Television: Introduction’,
The Child in Film and Television, special issue ofScreen, 46 (2005), 307–14 (p. 307)).
represent both the horrors of the immediate past and the hope for a better future, which allowed a despairing adult audience to transfer their own guilt and crisis of identity onto the generational‘other’. This function is supported by the fact that post-war films which focussed on children were seldom and never explicitly made for young audiences. Not even a film like Irgendwo in Berlin (1946), which, as many critics have pointed out, relies on director Gerhard Lamprecht’s pre-war chil-dren’s filmEmil und die Detektive(1931), was targeted at the young. On the other hand, those films which portrayed the young as innocent—predominantly the films from the Soviet Occupied Zone—tried also to appeal to the very generation they depicted, through comedy and adventure conventions, and thus integrate the young in the active rebuilding of Germany.5 Whether made for the young or for the adult world, post-war cinema used the figure of the child to‘shoulder society’s fantasies’.6According to Karen Lury, such an approach does not leave space for chil-dren as agents in their own right. Instead, the child is part of the narrative re-production of the community and is subsumed by and subordinated to the re-generative institutions.
This changed with the founding of the two post-war Germanies. While the child still functioned as a figure of national investment, the approaches to children on screen diversified. In the GDR this change took place almost exclusively in the‘ Kin-derfilm’genres as compared to films for adult audiences with child-protagonists at the centre.7Early on, the East German film company DEFA developed three main genres specifically for child audiences: fairy tales,‘Alltagsfilme’, and political/his-torical films.8Political diktat influenced children’s films focussing on the young as the new ‘educable’ generation growing up to embody the new political system. Thus in the 1950s and 1960s films for children often brought the battle between old and new,‘bad’and ‘good’onto the big screen with children representing the victory of social and political progress. The political framework of the films certainly led to simplified political and human solutions, but it also enabled a very keen sense of individual conflicts and social milieu, and their artistic depiction, as inAlarm im Zirkus(1954), the first of the Gerhard Klein/Wolfgang Kohlhaase‘Berlin films’and a convincing example of cinematic realism. Despite a pedagogically political focus, children’s films also gave room for playfulness and adventure often drawing on the detective and adventure genre even in historical/antifascist films such asDie Jagd nach dem Stiefel (Konrad Petzold, 1962), orKäuzchenkuhle (Walter Beck, 1969). At the same time, films for young audiences increasingly became a site of stylistic experiment in the case of fairy tale adaptations such asKönig Drosselbart(Walter Beck, 1965) orWie heiratet man einen König(Rainer Simon, 1969), which captivate the audience with wit and irony as well as a highly stylized mise-en-scène.
5 This is particularly true for films like1 2 3 Corona(Hans Müller, 1948) orDie Kuckucks
(Hans Deppe, 1949).
6 Lury,‘The Child in Film and Television: Introduction’, p. 308.
7 In 1953 the Produktionsgruppe Kinder- und Jugendfilm was founded within the
DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme.
8 Dieter Wiedemann,‘Der DEFA-Kinderfilm–zwischen pädagogischem Auftrag und
künstle-rischem Anliegen’, inZwischen Marx und Muck: DEFA-Filme für Kinder, ed. by Ingelore König, Dieter Wiedemann, and Lothar Wolf (Berlin: Henschel, 1996), pp. 21–31.
Similarly,‘Alltagsfilme’for children underwent a great transformation by gradu-ally opening up a space for exploring the point of view of children in contrast to the adult world and its demands for conformity, discipline, and efficiency. The child thus became a figure of criticism, as well as counter discourse which expressed loneliness, alienation, and loss as in Ikarus (Heiner Carow, 1975) or Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre
(Helmut Dziuba, 1982). The change of concept coincided with stylistic changes in that ‘Alltagsfilme’for children began to integrate the fantastic into the everyday and used it to explore the‘other’side of normality as a site of new, refreshing per-spectives and solutions. The fantastic on screen was a celebration of the longing for the impossible and a refusal to accept the narrow limits of everyday life as films by Rolf Losansky such asDer lange Ritt zur Schule(1982) orMoritz in der Litfaßsäule(1983) convincingly show. In the 1980s, the changes characteristic of
‘Alltagsfilme’eventually affected even the historical films for children, i.e. the anti-fascist films, which ceased to tell stories of heroic resistance against the Nazi regime and instead presented children confused by the political situation and traumatized by the experience of the war such as inDie Schüsse der Arche Noah(Egon Schlegel, 1983) orJan auf der Zille(Helmut Dziuba, 1986).9
While there were a number of highly expert and widely recognized directors who specialized in films for children, such as Rolf Losansky and Helmut Dziuba, direc-tors who predominantly made films for adult audiences such as Klein/Kohlhaase, Carow, and Simon, also worked for younger audiences thus underlining the widely accepted importance of this specific audience group. On the other hand, East German cinema rarely used child figures as the main perspective in films for adult audiences. If the young male adult in films by Konrad Wolf and Frank
Beyer is discounted, then few examples remain, such as Die Russen kommen
(Heiner Carow, 1968/87),Pugowitza(Jürgen Brauer, 1981) orKindheit(Siegfried Kühn, 1986). That all these films have the Third Reich and World War II as their subject indicates a particular affinity between the figure of the child and the engage-ment with the National Socialist past, which evolved from the generational succes-sion of film directors and their audiences and from a preoccupation with new beginnings after the catastrophe of war and the Holocaust, for which the child remained the central figure as either a symbol of innocence or representative of
‘innocent guilt’. One of the few examples outside the context of the Third Reich is Egon Günther’sWenn du groß bist, lieber Adam (1965/1990). The unconven-tional film reflects the upswing of the early 1960s linked to a new generation of GDR artists and writers who were engaged in reforming socialism and giving it a human, passionate, lively face instead of the petrified countenance of the Stalin era. The central figure of the film is Adam, a nine-year-old boy, whose curiosity, imagination, and creativity find an outlet when he is given a magic torch, the light of which exposes liars by lifting them off the ground and into the air. This fantastical story made for a fresh, philosophical, and entertaining approach to truth and society. However, Adam did not become the mascot of the new generation of social-ists: the film was banned and with it this example of the figure of the child as the
9 Ute Wölfel, ‘Children of the Revolution: Fathers and Sons in Antifascist DEFA Films’, German Life and Letters, 66 (2013), 326–46.
representative of the (truly) new order. The film only reached cinema screens after the Wall had come down.
In a number of West German films made for adult audiences in the 1950s, children feature as protagonists, both in escapist ‘Heimatfilme’ and in films which draw attention to the war and its consequences.10If post-war West German cinema can be viewed as having been concerned with exploring identity, then children seem to have provided a productive means of addressing the recent past and the contempor-ary situation. For example, public attention was drawn to the issue of interracial children of occupation in Robert A. Stemmle’s 1952 box office hitToxi, which the-matized a German family’s response to finding an Afro-German child on their door-step. While elements of the film, including the arguably ambivalent message of its ending, remain problematic, it was successful in its mainstream confrontation with definitions of ‘Germanness’and ideas about race.11 In a very different way, Bernhard Wicki’s anti-war filmDie Brücke(1959), about a group of adolescent sol-diers at the end of World War II, uses juvenile characters as screens on to which to project competing visions of the recent German past. Despite such international success stories, however, West Germany’s rapid economic regeneration in the 1950s went hand in hand with a decline in the success of its film industry, both finan-cially and aesthetically.12The re-invigoration of the West German film industry as a result of the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962 marked the beginning of a new chapter. The Young German Cinema of the 1960s and New German Cinema of the 1970s and 1980s offered a counter-perspective on society and, as a result, on the‘imagined community’of the nation at home and abroad.
Children feature prominently in the New German Cinema, perhaps not surpris-ingly given the generational opposition established by Oberhausen in its rejection of ‘Papas Kino’ and ‘Opas Kino’. Marc Silberman sees the prominence of ‘[t]he
mutilated or abandoned child’ in the New German cinema as a ‘metaphor for
postwar Germany’.13 In the films of Wim Wenders in particular, children play a
key role, and Wenders famously drew an affinity between the camera’s view
and that of the child which provides‘a view of the world that isn’t opinionated, a purely ontological gaze’.14 Children such as Alice inAlice in den Städten(1974) symbolize hope by virtue of being unencumbered by the burdens of the recent past: they ‘represent the self-possession and security his adult characters must work toward repossessing or keep from losing […]. The child figures as a point of
10Horst Schäfer,‘Der Kinderfilm in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1950–1980’, inKindheit und Film, pp. 73–109 (p. 90).
11See Heide Fehrenbach,Race After Hitler: Black Occupation Children in Postwar Germany and America(Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 116–20. See also Angelica Fenner, Race Under Reconstruction in German Cinema: Robert Stemmle’s ‘Toxi’
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011).
12Stephen Brockmann,A Critical History of German Film(Rochester, NY: Camden House,
2010), pp. 288–89.
13Marc Silberman,German Cinema: Texts in Context(Detroit: Wayne State University Press,
1995), p. 211.
14Wim Wenders,The Act of Seeing: Essays and Conversations(London: Faber, 1997), p. 43.
See also Alexander Graf’s discussion of this in The Cinema of Wim Wenders: The Celluloid Highway(London: Wallflower Press, 2002), pp. 66–67.
certainty—oblivious, self-sufficient, and innocent of history’.15As Wenders himself commented:‘Children have a sort of admonitory function in my films: to remind you with what curiosity and lack of prejudice it is possible to look at the world.’16 The child’s alternative, privileged, or ‘othered’view is also to be found in one of the most successful and best known films of the period, Volker Schlön-dorff’s 1979 adaptation of Günter Grass’sDie Blechtrommel(1959).17The perspec-tive of Oskar-as-child is frequently constructed through the voice-over which punctuates the film and through occasional point-of-view shots. Unlike Grass’s orig-inal narrative in which Oskar narrates retrospectively from a‘Heil- und Pflegean-stalt’, a fact which undermines his claim to have remained a three-year-old child throughout the Nazi period, the film presents Oskar unequivocally as a child, but here the child’s view is constructed as ‘eine geistige Perspektive, nicht eine optische’.18
The 1970s and 1980s also saw the release of a number of autobiographically informed films by female directors, which drew on and explored childhood and ado-lescence,19 for example Helma Sanders-Brahms’s Deutschland, bleiche Mutter
(1979) and Marianne Rosenbaum’sPeppermint Frieden(1982). In such films child-hood and childchild-hood memory provide a means with which to explore the past from a more overtly subjective perspective. Amidst this trend was released the infamous and extremely successfulChristiane F.: Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo(Uli Edel, 1981), which depicted disaffected urban youth in West Berlin in the 1970s, focussing on the protagonist’s descent into drug addiction and prostitution. Rather than playing on the innocent child’s privileged view, the film foregrounds the child’s potential for corruption and in so doing sparked a public debate on contemporary societal problems.
While West German film for adults enjoyed a revival, this was not so for films for children. Film production for children in the FRG began later than in the GDR,20
and had to contend with constraints such as the Jugendschutzgesetz of 1957,
which prohibited children under the age of six from attending the cinema. In his sub-stantial article on West German children’s film, Horst Schäfer argues for a more positive view of the industry in the post-war period than has hitherto been reflected in the critical literature. Alongside‘belanglose Märchenfilme und mehr oder weniger gelungene Kästner-Verfilmungen’, he cites a number of literary adaptations and orig-inal productions which testify to the success of the industry in the period.
15Robert Phillip Kolker and Peter Beicken,The Films of Wim Wenders: Cinema as Vision and Desire(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 57–58. Graf counters this pointing out that children who are not German and/or have no connection with Germany function in a similar way in Wenders’s films (Graf,The Cinema of Wim Wenders, p. 67).
16Wim Wenders,On Film(London: Faber, 2001), p. 323.
17Schlöndorff’sDer junge Törless(1966) is another good example. Here the director takes
Robert Musil’s Modernist novella (Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß, 1906) as a source, using thefin-de-sièclestory of boarding school torture to engage with the events and legacy of the Holocaust.
18Volker Schlöndorff,‘Die Blechtrommel’: Tagebuch einer Verfilmung(Darmstadt:
Luchter-hand, 1979), p. 25.
19Gabriele Weinberger,‘Film, Autobiographical’, inThe Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature, ed. by Friederike Eigler and Susanne Kord (Westport, London: Greenwood Press, 1997), pp. 167–68 (p. 167).
Nevertheless, the reinvigoration brought by the Oberhausen Manifesto did not appear to extend to the realm of children’s film initially. The 1960s were dominated by imports such as Disney productions which even repackaged and sold‘Emil’back to the Germans in an English-language version (1964).21
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unification, the figure of the child as an emblematic character experienced a revival in the national narrative to some extent, mostly in productions for adult audiences that engaged with the German dictatorships of the twentieth century fromGood Bye, Lenin!(Wolfgang
Becker, 2003) toDas Wunder von Bern(Sönke Wortmann, 2003), andNirgendwo
in Afrika(Caroline Link, 2001). The affinity between the figure of the child and the past was thus confirmed once again. However, the most noticeable change took place with regard to children as audience members as they gained importance as consumers. With the end of DEFA in 1992, the East German tradition of children’s film ceased, and this coincided with a general decline in film production for children in the early 1990s. This development was reversed when children’s films were revived as commercial investment. According to Exner and Kümmerling-Meibauer, the recipe for producing a commercially successful children’s film today includes a well-known director, famous literary source material, aesthetic innovation, as well as a focus on a family rather than solely a child audience. Thus after unification and under the terms of the market, children’s films achieved recognition and affirma-tion as a genre of high entertainment value.22As before in East and West Germany, literary sources remained the main inspiration for films for children: today the success of a book is frequently seen as a guarantee for profit at the box office. Thus children’s classics by authors such as Erich Kästner, Paul Maar, Otfried Preuss-ler or Cornelia Funke were (re)adapted for the cinema. That even international
clas-sics such as Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (Hermine Huntgeburth, 2011) and
Huckleberry Finn(Hermine Huntgeburth, 2012) were lavishly filmed can be under-stood less as an attempt to reach audiences abroad and more as a recognition of the fact that German children grow up with filmic and literary versions of these stories, and consequently have expectations of what a good adventure story is, and what they find exciting on screen. While these big-screen adaptations of Twain confirmed children’s film as a commercial enterprise, an adaptation like Norbert Lechner’sTom und Hacke (2011), which transported the story to the setting and dialect of (post-war) Bavaria, used audience expectations to tell a historically very specific childhood story and to explore children’s points of view outside the genre conventions.23
That children grow up within an increasingly globalized media environment is also recognized and made use of where German-language films adopt commercially successful models such as theHarry Potterfranchise, producing film series based on literary sources along with which a generation of children can grow up. Prominent
21Schäfer,‘Der Kinderfilm in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1950–1980’, p. 95.
22See also the (re)institution of the Deutsche Kinder-Medien-Festival Goldener Spatz in 2003,
formerly the Nationale Kinderfilm Festival; see also the introduction of the‘Kinder- und Jugen-dfilm’category in the German Film Prize.
23Twain’s stories were also used as intertext inHände weg von Mississippi (Detlev Buck,
2007) and the TV seriesPrinz und Bottel(Karola Hattop, 2010) which is based on Twain’sThe Prince and the Pauper(1881).
examples include Joachim Masannek’s Die Wilden Kerle (2003), with sequels released in cinemas in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008; Vivian Naefe’s Die Wilden Hühner (2006), with sequels in 2007 and 2009; or Wolfgang Groos’s Die Vam-pirschwestern, released in 2012, 2014, and 2015.24 Frequently such productions can be regarded as‘Eventkino’and are part of transmedial franchising which distri-butes stories through a number of media including books, films, websites, audio-books, theatre, and computer games. A reciprocal relationship between television and cinema also arises in that one media now relies on the other as a model of success. This is unsurprising given the rapidly changing way in which media is con-sumed. ThusVorstadtkrokodile(Christian Ditter, 2009) was a remake of a 1977 tel-evision series which in turn was based on Max von der Grün’s 1976 book for children; the same pattern is true forDie rote Zora.25
Within these commercial structures, films that do not conform remain less visible. Thus Wintertochter (Johannes Schmid, 2011) or, most recently, Jack (Edward Berger, 2014) are clearly exceptions. Not based on the adventure genre, they explore the everyday lives of children and their conflicts, adopting a point-of-view vis-à-vis the adult world, but also questioning commercial stories of adventure
and childhood heroism. Jack in particular is an example of what Sabine Hake
sees as a function of youth in post-unification film:
Since unification, film-makers have turned youth into a heuristic device through which to diagnose the deterioration of family ties and social net-works and to analyse the effects of alienation and dislocation on society’s most vulnerable members. Growing up in these films frequently means poverty, violence, homelessness, addiction, depression, and sexual abuse. […] They not only seem utterly lost and confused but also determined to sever all ties to mainstream society; at other times, they become resourceful and confident in confronting the challenges of personal independence.26 This volume brings together scholars working on depictions of children and child-hood in a range of German-language films. The diversity of material, even within the modest scope of this collection, speaks to the ubiquity and symbolic potential of chil-dren in film. The first two articles examine the portrayal of child figures and child-hood in films intended primarily for an adult audience. Both Edward Saunders’s and Debbie Pinfold’s articles discuss the child as a figure for productive engagement with the German past and dissect different layers of post-unification‘ Vergangenheitsbe-wältigung’with regard to the subject as well as its current production. Saunders looks at Volker Koepp’s documentary filmHolunderblüte(2007) which excavates the layers of the historical landscape of East Prussia and its memorialization, a process that became possible only after 1989; the landscape’s past as German and later Soviet territory can be approached through the‘heterospective’child’s view. The child subjects of Koepp’s documentary, free of an historical awareness of
24The latter also taps into the ubiquity of vampire-related books and films of the 2000s and
25The novel was first published in 1941 (Kurt Held,Die rote Zora und ihre Bande), adapted
for television in 1979, and adapted for cinema in 2008, directed by Peter Kahane.
their home’s chequered history, facilitate the adult viewer’s engagement with histori-cal memory.
In her analysis of Cate Shortland’sLore(2012) and Mark Herman’sThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), Pinfold chooses as her starting point the continuing internationalization of the National Socialist past in order to subsequently look at the effect that such‘re-imports’have on debates within Germany;Lorein particular is a striking and timely example as it is based on a text by Rachel Seiffert, the daugh-ter of German and Australian parents, and while it was filmed in German and is a German-British-Australian co-production, it has an Australian director who speaks no German. In both contexts of dealing with the past, children in their capacity as‘uncompromised/innocent heirs’enable adult engagement with difficult historical subjects. While Herman’s film risks constructing an exculpatory discourse for the perpetrators,Lorecan be read as a more complex treatment of the past which contributes to post-Wendedebates about the ongoing commemoration of the Holo-caust in Germany.
These discussions of the German past are followed by articles that look at various uses of heritage in films intended for child and family audiences. Here the past appears as a cultural treasure to be handed on to the next generation in a gesture of commitment to the national community. Ute Wölfel, in her article on the latest television adaptations of the Grimms’ fairy tales, demonstrates how the classic tales are successfully offered as moral touchstones to post-unification audiences, pre-senting children as facilitators of social harmony and political consensus. In her analysis of filmic adaptations of Erich Kästner’s modern classics for children from the 1950s and 1990s to 2000s, Alexandra Lloyd explores and compares the strat-egies and approaches which have been re-appropriated from Kästner’s texts in order to depict stability and security on screen in periods of change and disquiet. Finally, Benjamin Nickl examines the way in which non-western identities are con-structed in film, analyzing Karl-Heinz Käfer’s adaptation of Paul Maar’s Lippels Traum (1990). The film’s engagement with the subject of ethnic ‘otherness’ and attendant anxieties in post-Wendesociety provides a means with which to interro-gate German identity. This is achieved through the focus on the child protagonist’s Oriental fantasies which are problematized for the family audience. Nickl’s discus-sion of the 2009 remake identifies a shift in the genre’s approach to questions of ethnic‘difference’and that a more obviously critical (self-) awareness may be devel-oping. Thus these articles engage with a broad set of depictions of children and childhood in relation to historical memory, identity, and heritage, as well as issues of genre and media. We see directors taking up established traditions of filmmaking, remaking former‘hits’, and adapting well-known and beloved classics for a new audience and consumer base, whilst trading on the nostalgia associated with earlier productions. Modern classics such as Kästner and Maar sit alongside the Grimms, serving as future-oriented models which attempt to describe more recent changes in society and to reflect the new context as well as celebrating the past. This attempt at holding past and present in tandem is not always convincing. More-over, we frequently find a tension in depictions of the German past between a histori-cal perspective and an idealized or mythologized one. Koepp’sHolunderblüte, for example, seeks in a documentary fashion to draw attention to the historical memory of a region; at the same time, the ARD Grimms productions construct an
‘Ur-German’ground which remains fundamentally ahistorical. This is underscored 234 ALEXANDRA LLOYD AND UTE WÖLFEL
by the brand-status of the fairy tale as a quintessentially German product, one which not only sells but also serves an ideological function. Continuity with the past, at least certain chapters of it, is often emphasized, showing that old stories are still valid and that pan-generational dialogue is possible and important.
The articles ask questions about what it means to be‘German’and how the child in film is used as a vehicle to explore that issue. What part does the child figure play in the negotiation and construction of identity after 1989? What is its function in film? When taken together, the articles assembled here tentatively suggest that the child figure signifies a moment of regeneration. Recuperation is a central message in many of the films discussed, and the child functions effectively as a symbol of hope. He/she can be a reassuring presence. The films in this issue are in many ways representative of post-Wendemainstream film production, in which we fre-quently find children pressed into the service of society’s narratives and fantasies of itself. This is, in a sense unsurprising, but it cannot be said to be the whole story. A final word of thanks: we are extremely grateful to the contributors and to the many individuals, institutions, and production companies that have assisted in various ways with the preparation of the volume. Particular thanks are also due to Graham Nelson at Maney Publishing, and to Nigel Palmer, Jim Reed, and Emily Spiers atOxford German Studies.
St Edmund Hall, Oxford