Localizing the Milljöh in Gerhard Lamprecht’s Irgendwo in Berlin (1946) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/qv33s2219

Paper presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the German Studies Association

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  • Scholars studying Gerhard Lamprecht’s Irgendwo in Berlin (Soviet Occupied Zone, 1946) usually approach it within the context of a non-genre, the Trümmerfilm. Set in the rubble of Berlin Lamprecht’s film also invokes a number of traditions harking back to Weimar cinema of the 1920s, and thus invites a re-reading that references Lamprecht’s pre-1933 cinematic oeuvre. In particular, the Milljöh-Filme Lamprecht shot together with the graphic artist Heinrich Zille allow us to link Irgendwo in Berlin to the tradition of proletarian Berlin-films. In my paper, I read Irgendwo in Berlin as continuation and combination of such a tradition. By referencing the different policies and restrictions imposed by each occupying force for film production in their sector I suggest that Lamprecht foregrounded the rubble to appease the Soviet Military Administration and get permission to shoot this film. Yet, once we look beyond the rubble Irgendwo in Berlin reveals the typical proletarian stories set in Berlin’s “Zille-Milieu” which Lamprecht’s filmmaking had become known for in Weimar: stories of unemployment and hunger, disillusionment and frustration, petty crime and the presence of death. Much like in these Milljöh-Filme Lamprecht also leads the audience to original locations as we venture into Berlin’s tenement buildings, peer into basements and courtyards, and experience the everyday life of proletarians. The living conditions and lack of work reiterate the problems of the Weimar proletarian film, and like its predecessors Irgendwo in Berlin offers a glimmer of hope that progress and an improvement of the living conditions will become possible by solidarity. Looking at Irgendwo in Berlin as a Milljöh-Film thus challenges the notion of at least this Trümmerfilm as a film of a “Zero Hour,” and instead proposes a much closer connection of DEFA filmmaking to the cinematic traditions of before 1933.
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