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Kracauer, Siegfried

(Frankfurt 1889–New York 1966)

Theorist and critic. During the 1920s, Kracauer was one of Germany's most important film critics; he was also the cultural affairs editor of the well-respected Frankfurter Zeitung. A controversial figure in the realm of film criticism, his analyses approached cinema through a distinctly sociological perspective. After Hitler's rise to power he first lived in Paris; when the Nazis occupied France, he elected to leave Europe for the United States. In 1942, he was commissioned to examine Nazi film propaganda; and from that project, Kracauer developed his most celebrated study, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film (1947). There he argues that changes in style and content of Weimar cinema resulted from shifts in the psychological disposition of the nation's key social group, middle-class men. Although now widely criticized for its over-simplifying theoretical underpinnings, this study remains a groundbreaking work on the relationship between film and society.


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