<I>Phoenix</I> heftetEngelsk, 2019


Christian Petzold's Phoenix (2014), a masterpiece from one of Germany's leading contemporary filmmakers, portrays a death-camp survivor's return to occupied Berlin just after the war has come to an end. Nelly, played by German film star Nina Hoss, returns badly wounded, her face covered in bandages, hoping that her German husband will still love her. Johnny fails to recognize her and instead offers her a role in an intricate criminal scheme. Petzold's film, which he scripted together with his frequent collaborator Harun Farocki, was an international success that has been widely compared with works by Alfred Hitchcock and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. This study explores the film's unique array of influences including the vast range of films, novels, and memoirs on which its screenwriters drew. Its central argument concerns the film's integration of a long history of German-Jewish works and ideas-its attempt to confront its audience with a neglected tradition that included figures as diverse as Peter Lorre, Fred Zinnemann, and Hannah Arendt. Offering a close reading of the film's themes, compositions, and music alongside a film-historical contextualization, this book constitutes the most significant and thorough study of Phoenix to date. Brad Prager is Professor of German and Film Studies at the University of Missouri.