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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Province Always Rings Twice: Christian Petzold’s Heimatfilm noir Jerichow

  • Author(s): King, Alasdair
  • et al.

After achieving critical success as one of Germany’s leading contemporary film makers with his Gespenster/Ghosts trilogy (2000, 2005, 2007), Christian Petzold’s subsequent film, Jerichow (2008) has continued his interest in utilizing genre conventions to explore the dynamics between his central characters, lost in the forgotten and empty spaces of post-unification Germany, this “Zwischendeutschland.” A loose adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, and thus assuming a position in an enduring series of celebrated film adaptations of the novel in Hollywood and European cinema, Petzold’s film sets the ménage-à-trois in place in the depopulated landscape of northeastern Germany. With the inevitable crime playing out against the “immanent borderscapes that make up the heart of late capitalist Germany” (Abel 2008), Petzold’s use of genre cinema again raises questions about the economic and political settlement of Germany set against the urban and provincial spaces of late capitalism, and about the impossibility of returning home.

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