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Nazi Film Melodrama$
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Laura Heins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037740

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037740.001.0001

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Breaking Out of the Bourgeois Home: Domestic Melodrama

Breaking Out of the Bourgeois Home: Domestic Melodrama

(p.95) 3. Breaking Out of the Bourgeois Home: Domestic Melodrama
Nazi Film Melodrama

Laura Heins

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the domestic melodrama and argues that it was used by the Nazis in a genre-contradictory manner to effect a departure from the nuclear family, in accordance with the antibourgeois antipathies of the regime's leadership. It contends that Nazi films, far from universally reinforcing traditional family structures, actually profit from an undermining of sexual taboos—the ultimate goal being an increased level of efficiency of production and reproduction. Seemingly prohibited desires actually formed the core of Nazi film melodramas; just as fascist Germany's “leading man” found the family largely unattractive, so did the imaginary of its cinema. Filmmakers in the Third Reich preferred to offer images of the dissolution of the family rather than images of harmonious familial units, and the domestic melodrama in particular reveals the highly conflicted attitude of Nazi ideology and policy regarding bourgeois morality, marriage, and motherhood.

Keywords:   domestic melodrama, nuclear family, antibourgeois antipathies, traditional family structures, prohibited desires, motherhood, marriage, Nazi ideology

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