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Facing FearThe History of an Emotion in Global Perspective$
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Michael Laffan and Max Weiss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153599

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153599.001.0001

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Weimar Cinema between Hypnosis and Enlightenment

Weimar Cinema between Hypnosis and Enlightenment

Chapter:
(p.91) Chapter 5 Weimar Cinema between Hypnosis and Enlightenment
Source:
Facing Fear
Author(s):

Andreas Killen

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691153599.003.0006

This chapter examines the place of hypnosis in Weimar Germany's cultural imaginary and its connection to a broad set of fears articulated around the “masses,” “mass culture,” and the problem of “mass psychology.” It relates this motif to debates about Weimar cinema, which aroused both intense apprehension concerning its impact on audiences and equally intense hopes concerning its possibilities as a medium of public instruction or enlightenment. In particular, it looks at Fritz Lang's film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, which was banned in 1933 by Germany's film censor board due to fear that it represented an incitement not merely to crime but to revolution and terror. The chapter shows that Testament both casts a hypnotic spell and undoes it through a kind of “counterhypnosis.” It also discusses some of the questions raised by the banning of Testament, including one relating to the role of the mass media in modern public life.

Keywords:   hypnosis, Weimar Germany, fear, Weimar cinema, enlightenment, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, terror, counterhypnosis, mass media, public life

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