Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Filmwissenschaft, Seminar für » Prof. Dr. Margrit Tröhler » Bornkamm

Current research project

Title / Titel «Ambivalent atmospheres». The reception of early Egyptian films between Orient and Occident – 1920s-1940s
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Original title / Originaltitel «Ambivalente Atmosphären». Die Rezeption früher ägyptischer Filme im Spannungsfeld Orient – Okzident.
Summary / Zusammenfassung Atmospheres are indeterminate above all as regards their ontological status. They seem to fill the space with a certain tone of feeling like a haze’, writes Gernot Böhme in his essay Atmosphere as the fundamental concept of a New Aesthetics.Atmospheres are ambivalent by nature and cannot be reduced to stilistic or narrative elements. They are composed and influenced by a huge number of components in a specific screening situation at a given moment.
This dissertation project aims to describe the atmospheres of early Egyptian films, which have unfolded their nebulous vagueness in two radically different environments: being screened in Egypt and Europe. The earliest film regarded as Egyptian was shot in 1923 in Alexandria by Mohamed Bayoumi. Bayoumi had previously travelled to Berlin, in order to study filmmaking at German film sets. At that time, the technical and artistic knowhow of filmmaking in Egypt had been entirely in the hands of Europeans, an expatriate elite in Egypt. Following his example, other Egyptian film pioneers travelled to Berlin in the 1920ies and 1930ies, and worked as extras for famous films such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, or as technical assistants for less known productions. After returning to Egypt, these men would create many of the films of the “Golden Age” of Egyptian cinema. Interestingly, Egyptian film producers started to hire Germans as filmmakers at the same time. Some of the films created in this short period of German-Egyptian collaboration were screened in Egypt and Europe. They were not as successful in Europe, although “Egyptomania” was spreading at that time, promoted by the discoveries of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the bust of Nefertiti. One of the main questions will focus on the different modes of reception in Egypt and Europe. Why are many of these films part of today’s Egyptian film canon, while in Germany the period of Egyptian-German collaboration has almost fallen into oblivion? Furthermore, I will examine the historical concepts of atmosphere and ‘Stimmung’ in order to historicize the differences in meaning and use between orient and occident.
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Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dipl.-Komm.-Wirtin Henriette Bornkamm (Project Leader) Henriette Bornkamm
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
Doktorandin im NCCR Mediality: Medienwandel – Medienwechsel – Medienwissen. Historische Perspektiven
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2014 to Dec 2019