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PRINT April 1986

THE CAVE

German film’s archaeology of the present past.

IF CINEMA IS TO REMAIN a living force, it must remain capable of exploring and digesting public issues, whether they are matters of everyday discussion or are repressed and taboo. Over the last few years Europe has produced a number of films on the Nazi period. Among these, masterworks such as Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah demonstrate that the medium has an intrinsic role in the difficult, painful effort to come to terms with that black hole in modern history. And several movies have also dealt with more recent, bitterly divisive conditions in German life: the desperate turn to terrorism, and the murky workings of the judicial system, which recall frightening questions from earlier times. I have mentioned some of these films before in Artforum—Margarethe von Trotta’s Die bleierne Zeit (The leaden time, 1981), for example, and Rainer Werner Fasssbinder’s Die dritte Generation (The third generation,

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