The public is invited to a free screening of “Near the Palace,” a short documentary film meditation on the proximity of the famous cultural palace in Weimar and the Buchenwald concentration camp. Dr. Alan Marcus, director, will attend the screening and discuss this film and his other cinematic reflections on the past and the Shoah.
Please join us in Sakamaki Hall A201, the UHM History Department seminar room, on April 11th at 12:30 pm. The screening will be followed by discussion. Information regarding the film and filmmaker is below:
How can we seek to define the Weimar/Buchenwald paradox in film form? In tandem with Holocaust Remembrance Day, the screening and discussion of the film, Near the Palace (2015, 30mins) by cultural historian and filmmaker Alan Marcus offers insight into Weimar’s complex legacy as the cultural keystone of German identity and the embodiment of brutality and death.
This research film explores the cultural and spatial paradox presented by Weimar/Buchenwald, drawing on two key creative ciphers associated with the city: a painting and writings by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) and a narrative framework extracted from Goethe’s Faust. Through its historical artistic centrality, Weimar represents a cultural keystone to German identity, but it also served as a political platform for Adolf Hitler, who visited the city 45 times between 1924-33. Among the celebrated composers, artists, writers and philosophers who comprise Weimar’s cultural legacy, Goethe and his masterwork, Faust, continue to play a prominent role in the city’s persona and touristic appeal. As this project explores, in sharp counterpoint to Weimar’s stately architecture stands another cultural legacy embodied in the form of Buchenwald concentration camp. Lyonel Feininger captured the city’s shapes in a series of paintings, including a work entitled, Near the Palace, which foregrounds a dark angularity later associated with the ‘architecture of oppression’ (Jaskot, 2000) of KZ Buchenwald, sited on the hill overlooking Weimar. Feininger, who was appointed ‘Master of Form’ at Weimar’s Bauhaus School when it opened in 1919, provides a link between the progressive movement in German art and design which epitomized the modernist International Style, and the destructive impact of the Nazi regime, which closed the Bauhaus School when it came to power and seized hundreds of Feininger’s works as ‘degenerate art’. The experimental visual and narrative approach Marcus adopts in this film of using form and metaphor as a way of investigating multi-layered meanings embedded in an iconic post-traumatic site associated with the field of ‘difficult heritage’ (Macdonald, 2009) builds on his publications and ten films completed on Holocaust-related sites. This project was prompted in part by an interview Marcus conducted with Buchenwald survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel.
Professor Alan Marcus is Chair in Film and Visual Culture at King’s College, University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and received his MPhil and PhD at Cambridge University. His recent research focuses on themes associated with memory and the representation of iconic post-traumatic sites. He has published on visual anthropology, architecture, photography and film, including Visualizing the City (2008) and Relocating Eden (1995). His research film projects, including a number of works which examine sites associated with Jewish identity, the Diaspora and the Holocaust, have been the subject of over 50 invited talks with screenings, including at Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge. Marcus is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain. His latest talks and screenings were held at Columbia, Duke and UCLA. Further details at: https://alanrmarcus.com
The event is co-sponsored by the Department of History and the History Honor Society, and is scheduled to honor Yom Ha Shoah, which falls on April 11th this calendar year.