General Admission: $15 ($12 Belcourt members)
Presented by James McFarland, associate professor of German and Cinema and Media Arts at Vanderbilt University
Although on their release in the 1950s, Douglas Sirk’s movies were seen as sentimental “women’s films,” popular but hardly serious, he is now widely recognized as one of Hollywood’s great directors. In anticipation of the Belcourt’s screening of four of his technicolor masterpieces, this seminar will examine the early career of Detlef Sierck, the director for the German stage in the 1920s and then for UFA, the primary German film studio, before his political sympathies and Jewish wife led him to emigrate to the United States in 1937. It was in the crucible of Weimar Germany that Sirk learned his craft, working with actors under difficult conditions and combining pointed social critique with popular melodramatic forms. The seminar will consider melodrama as a narrative mode, the relation of German to American film production before and during the war, and the particular characteristics that make Sirk’s movies such enduring monuments to the power of cinema.
Presented in conjunction with Weekend Classics: Douglas Sirk. Movie tickets sold separately.
About the speaker:
James McFarland studied philosophy at Oberlin College and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. He took his doctorate in German Studies from Princeton University. He has taught literature, philosophy, and film in Germany, Russia and the United States, and is currently an Assistant Professor of German at Vanderbilt University. He has published on Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno’s collaboration with Thomas Mann on Doktor Faustus, Peter Szondi’s reception of Walter Benjamin, the “Unabomber Manifesto” and academic rhetoric, and the political theology of George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD, among other matters.