Filming the Phantoms of Berlin: Christian Petzold’s ‘Gespenster’ (‘Ghosts’, 2005)

1 March 2011, 17:15 - 19:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Professor Andrew J. Webber (Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge)

This paper considers the 2005 film Gespenster (Ghosts) by one of Germany’s leading contemporary directors, Christian Petzold. It is a film about identity, relationship and loss, set between the cultivated wilderness of the Tiergarten Park and the sterilised modernity under surveillance of the reconstructed Potsdamer Platz. Reading the film with Derrida’s Specters of Marx, the paper considers what is the character – ontological and political – of the haunting that gives the film its title.

Prof Andrew Webber is Professor of Modern German and Comparative Culture at the University of Cambridge. He undertakes research in German and Austrian culture in the modern period, with special interests in narrative writing, film, and cultural theory and analysis. Much of his published work is concerned with issues of identity, both personal and social. He has an active interest in psychoanalysis and in theories of gender and sexuality, with many publications in these areas. His most recent work has been concerned with urban space, and in particular Berlin, resulting in the book Berlin in the Twentieth Century: A Cultural Topography, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008.



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