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The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film$
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Sonja Fritzsche

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380383

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380383.001.0001

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date: 20 October 2017

Casting for a Socialist Earth: Multicultural Whiteness in the East German/Polish Science Fiction Film Silent Star

Casting for a Socialist Earth: Multicultural Whiteness in the East German/Polish Science Fiction Film Silent Star

Chapter:
(p.118) 7. Casting for a Socialist Earth: Multicultural Whiteness in the East German/Polish Science Fiction Film Silent Star
Source:
The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film
Author(s):

Evan Torner

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781781380383.003.0008

This chapter discusses East German/Polish science-fiction co-production Silent Star (Der schweigende Stern, 1960), the world’s first film to feature a mixed-racial spaceship crew, in terms of socialist conceptions of race and gender. Director Kurt Maetzig conceptualized the expensive film, based on Stanislaw Lem novel Astronauci (1951), as an anti-racist epic leveled against nuclear war. Yet the resultant production made only tokenist attempts at integrating its multi-racial, multicultural cast into a believable, agentic space crew, remaining otherwise firmly entrenched in a German film tradition of racial performance and asymmetrical gender relations. The chapter uses new archival and press research to address the depiction of racial and international unities in this utopian film. It examines the ideology behind socialist multiculturalism, and how the production and aesthetics of the film itself model such a worldview with all its dilemmas intact.

Keywords:   East German film, multiculturalism, racism, science fiction, Silent Star, socialism, spaceship, whiteness

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