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Veit HarlanThe Life and Work of a Nazi Filmmaker$
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Frank Noack

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167008

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167008.001.0001

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Individualist in a Totalitarian State

Individualist in a Totalitarian State

(p.1) Introduction Individualist in a Totalitarian State
Veit Harlan

Frank Noack

University Press of Kentucky

This preface deals with the contradictory impression that Veit Harlan left on people who knew him personally and people who have merely watched his films. As the director of the Nazi propaganda film Jud Süss (Jew Suss, 1940), he appeared to be a fanatical anti-Semite assisting in the murder of 6 million Jews. Former Jewish friends who had gone into exile couldn’t reconcile this image with the man they had known before 1933. To the scholar, the life and work of Veit Harlan raises a large number of questions, such as the responsibility of the artist, the seduction theory, and the relationship between form and content. Harlan’s preference for melodrama, a term he himself never used, invites comparison with Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder; stylistic elements in his films that are also found in Alfred Hitchcock can be traced back to Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau; and as a filmmaker obsessed with his wife, he invites comparison to David O. Selznick and Roberto Rossellini. The chapter further deals with Harlan’s treatment of women and strangers; his interest in social issues; his nationalism; and his use of actors, color, and music.

Keywords:   anti-Semitism, Alfred Hitchcock, David O. Selznick, Roberto Rossellini, contradictions, Holocaust, Nazi propaganda, responsibility of the artist, seduction theory

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