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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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The Nazi Modernization of Sex: Romance Melodrama

The Nazi Modernization of Sex: Romance Melodrama

(p.45) 2. The Nazi Modernization of Sex: Romance Melodrama
Nazi Film Melodrama

Laura Heins

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores how Third Reich romance melodramas attempted to form spectator desires to the benefit of Nazi imperialist aims. Nazi romance films positioned Third Reich culture as a liberation from nineteenth-century sexual morality while encouraging female participation in the public sphere in preparation for a war economy. The sexual content of Nazi films was furthermore calculated to exceed that of Hollywood in an attempt to make Nazi rule appear more attractive to German, occupied, and neutral audiences. And contrary to the assumptions that the Nazis attempted to desexualize the cinema, historical evidence shows that the erotic attractions of female performers were explicitly used in order to suppress political critique. Yet the “woman question” continually threatened to interfere with the propaganda minister's instrumentalization of the female body, and Nazi cinema's deployment of the erotic sometimes backfired.

Keywords:   romance melodrama, erotica, female bodies, sexual morality, spectator desires, imperialism, Third Reich culture, Nazi films

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