Far from home? Functions of escapism and portrayal of the tropics in 'La Habanera' (1937)
Studies in European Cinema, 6, (1), . (doi:10.1386/seci.6.1.63/1).
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The Ministry of Propaganda was attracted by cinema’s great potential to unite three distinct endeavours: Employing cinema as entertainment, propaganda tool, and economic commodity. In case of Detlef Sierck’s La Habanera (1937), the blend of form and text promised great success as cinematography, storyline, and selection of actors, made this film achieve all three of the above. Utilizing Northern European beliefs about the tropics, the film establishes an inauspicious picture about a culture characterized by unrestrained sexuality, a health damaging climate, and archaic social customs. La Habanera employs these clichéd perceptions for a National Socialist enlightenment process that makes use of and simultaneously criticizes Hollywood conventions. Staging the narrative of a female protagonist, this melodrama intends to attract female audiences in particular. Women have to learn that abandoning ones home-(land) in favor of an illusion will be punished. An alternative way outside of their social position as wives and mothers does not exist.
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