UFA Orientalism. The “Orient” in Early German Film: Lubitsch and May

Frank F. Scherer

Abstract


Fantastic images of the exotic pervade many early German films which resort to constructions of “Oriental” scenes. Stereotypical representations of China, India, Babylon, and Egypt  dominate the Kino-screens of Weimar Germany. These films were produced in the UFA studios outside Berlin by directors such as Ernst Lubitsch (Sumurum/ One Arabian Night, 1920; Das Weib des Pharaos/The Love of Pharaoas 1922) and John May (Das Indische Grabmal/ The Indian Tomb, 1921). Yet, where recent observers resist the use of a postcolonial perspective it becomes difficult to assess the cinematographic exoticism of post-WWI Germany.This essay, therefore, offers both a discussion of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’and a psychoanalytical thesis on the concealment and supposed healing of post-1918 Germany’s national narcissistic wounds by  emphasizing Eurocentric difference in its filmic representations of the Orient.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2011.24

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