Germanic Review, The

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 1930-6962
Print ISSN: 0016-8890
In the German Democratic Republic (GDR) Ophelia is a "found object," inherited from Shakespeare's Hamlet and from countless European poets and painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally, Ophelia was the young girl in love who lost her mind and drowned in an overhung brook. Her recurrence in Müller's Hamletmaschine and in poems by Bobrowksi, Huchel, Hilbig, Bartsch, Pietraß, and Köhler signals an interaction between the GDR present and earlier reception of Ophelia. The texts discussed make the drowned girl a warning sign of unacknowledged catastrophe; she embodies female suffering caused not by love, but by larger sociopolitical forces. The author argues that GDR writers reinterpret the immobility of the Wasserleiche: in GDR poetry, Ophelia's corpse becomes part of a rhetoric of social death. Rather than the highly gendered contemplation of beauty and decay, postwar paradigms instate Ophelia's drowning as an outrage indicating the destructiveness of modern political organization.
Until the 2004 release of his global warming movie, The Day After Tomorrow, German émigré and Hollywood A-list director Roland Emmerich had always presented himself as an apolitical entertainer. Film critics generally saw the content of his films as amounting to nothing more than the clever reworking of Hollywood clichés. As Emmerich became more consciously political in his moviemaking aims, he increasingly incorporated motifs from the work of nineteenth-century landscape artist and Romantic icon Caspar David Friedrich. This essay suggests that the character of his cinematic engagement with Friedrich correlates both with the nature of his film material and the evolution of Emmerich's hopes for political change in post-9/11 U.S. politics. While Friedrich motifs are present in Emmerich's optimistic tales of multicultural solidarity - 10,000 BC (2008) and 2012 (2009) - their use proliferates in his latest release, Anonymous (2012), which dramatizes the disillusionment of the political artist.