Filmisch erzählte Achsen der Ungleichheit. Verfremdungseffekt, Heterotopie, Deterritorialisierung, Diaspora
Brunner, Maria E.
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This essay analyzes the particular semiotics of film language and proposes a specific approach to film textuality focusing on some films that narrate transnational and transversal stories within the history of German cinema, from R. W. Fassbinder onward. It attempts to define a semiotic model, a meta-semiotic of transversality and transnationality, which helps to explain in what way the particular semiotics of a film can signify the migratory “in between” reality that is recounted. A film is a text, but this text is undiscoverable because the mobility of a movie is irreducible. This irreducible mobility of filmic language represents its textuality; therefore, the filmic narration is neither assimilable to nor superposable on the literary narration. Cinema drives the story telling out of the traditional canons of the written text, and thus it corresponds to a narration which goes beyond the literary one. Cinema (in this case dealing with the destinies of first and second generation migrants in Germany) also presents an interweaving of memory, denunciation, travel, desire for change. Furthermore, cinema seems to be the ideal language to tell the epopee of great migrations starting with the life stories of individual migrants. Hence, the essay highlights three film directors who dealt with the topic of “migration” and the “stranger/foreigner” issue in German cinema. The first film about this issue in the history of German filmmaking is Angst essen Seele auf (1974) by R. W. Fassbinder, which follows the model of the melodramatic film by the Hollywood director D. Sirk (All That Heaven Allows, 1955): the immigrant who is the main character of the film comes from Morocco. F. Akin and K. Ataman, instead, are film directors who treat the immigrant subject (in this case coming from Turkey) in a different way: Akin follows Brecht’s theory of epic theatre and uses the techniques of estrangement; Ataman uses poststructuralism and the theories of J. Butler. Also the concept of heterotopia elaborated by Foucault, Bachtin and Said leaves its traces in the filmic language of Ataman. The four films analysed in this framework, Angst essen Seele auf (Fassbinder, 1974), Lola and Billy the Kid (Ataman, 1999), Gegen die Wand (Akin, 2004), and Auf der anderen Seite (Akin, 2007), show a “heterogeneous borderland community” with multilingual characters who act in transcultural spaces and contact zones, and, in the case of Ataman, are “transgender” or “queer”.