Features and Columns · Movies

Identity, Rebellion, and the Origins of New German Cinema

Fassbinder, Wenders, and Herzog … oh my!
Aguirre The Wrath Of God - New German Cinema
Werner Herzog Filmproduktion
By  · Published on February 14th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that offers a brief beginner’s guide to New German Cinema.


Sometimes, a rebellious phase is the best thing that can happen to National Cinema. Even typing those words, “national cinema” sends a shiver down my spine. There’s something gauche and irksome about clamoring after a cinematic identity defined by, in some significant way, a country of origin. Then again, I write to you from Canada, a country whose desperation for something resembling national cinema has become our cinematic output’s defining trait. Personally, in this instance at least, I side with David Cronenberg, who stated the bluntly obvious fact that “Canadian cinema” is simply cinema created by Canadians.

Would that it were so simple in all instances. The rebellious creative throes of all countries are not created equal — an understatement when you take a step back to survey the unique socio-political shakeups gripping the nape of each country’s neck. Case and point: New German Cinema, a movement born out of a desire to question not only what it meant to be German but what makes a film a film. With a firm focus on self-consciousness and the various barbs that pull it in different directions, New German Cinema shared a pressing post-war concern to probe into the past and to test the viability of the future in equal measure.

In addition to providing a road map and brief introduction to the movement’s key players (Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Wim Wenders), the following video essay keys in on New German Cinema’s uniting thrust: a desire to actively question the identity of Germany, of people living through world-historical events, and the identity of cinema itself.

Watch “A Brief History of New German Cinema”:


Who made this?

This video essay introduction to New German Cinema comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Will Webb is the writer and editor behind this video, which was produced by Adam Woodward. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).