|Abstract: ||The thesis revolves around the history of the cinema in three towns divided by the Polish-German border, namely Frankfurt/Oder-Słubice, Guben-Gubin, and Görlitz-Zgorzelec between 1945 and 1989. Drawing on this local perspective, it examines the cultural politics and relations between the two socialist republics: the Polish People`s Republic and the German Democratic Republic.
The introduction gives the outline of the political, social and cultural characteristics of the towns newly divided by the 1945 border. It also analyses the general role of cinema in leisure activities, how the movies were advertised, as well as ways of movie distribution and cinema management in both countries.
The first chapter broadly describes the development of cinema culture after 1945, amid the rubbleof the citiesdestroyed during the last months of the WWII. It touches upon the reconstruction of the city centres and the role of the Soviet authorities in the reorganization of the lands which were to form the Soviet Occupation Zone in Germany and the Western Territories of Poland. The new policy included the expropriation of the former cinema owners and nationalization of the whole of cinematography in the second half of the 1940s.
The second chapter explores the diversity of the architectural forms of the cinemas and draws attention to the variety of venues where movie shows were organized, especially at the peak of the popularity of movie theatres (in the 1950s) and during their competition with a new medium at the dawning of the television era. The case studies focus on the imposing architecture of the socialist realism, movie theatres installed in community centres, recurrent renovations and technical improvements of the existing infrastructure. In the final passages the attention is given to special forms of movie theatres, such as open-air-and army cinemas as well as cinema-cafes.
The third chapter explores the local dimension of propaganda in the cinema by looking at the ways in which the guidelines from the central agenda were applied to the local context. Movie theatres were decorated, special shows, exhibitions and events organized to celebrate public holidays and birthday anniversaries of Soviet leaders. The cinema managers would invest considerable effort and resourcefulness to ensure strong public attendance at movie theatres. They collaborated with many local institutions, such as schools and state companies. A range of people were engaged in the production of phony data concerning the reception of the
Soviet films and measuring the impact of the ‘brotherly nation’s’ ideology on the Polish and East German audiences.
The fourth chapter runs through the period of an open border between the two socialist states, i.e. between 1972 and 1980. It analyses both the official collaboration and individual contacts across the border (East Germans’ visits to the Polish cinemas) changing perspective from the very local –towns,to the broader one –voivodeships.
The last chapter describes the waning of the cinema in the 1980s. First of all, this period witnessed the desperate attempts aiming at keeping the attendance records high. Secondly, the plans were made to find new ways to fill the movie theatres, all of which were ended by the political events at the turn of the 1980s. In addition, the chapter analyses the cinema buildings as a part of the German, European and socialist heritage which is juxtaposed with the present attitudes of the local population to those edifices. Finally, the chapter ponders the fate and future of the abandoned cinema buildings in the context of the new role of non governmental initiatives, which aim at re-animating the cinema culture on the Oder–Neisse.
The thesis is based on archival research exploring mostly local and regional resources; on the analysis of the local press, leaflets and adverts, interviews with experts and contemporaries as well as on the personal examination of the places which have once been a part of cinema history.|