Hellmut Fröhlich: Das neue Bild der Stadt. Filmische Stadtbilder und alltägliche Raumvorstellungen im Dialog. Stuttgart 2007 (Erdkundliches Wissen 142). 389 S.We exist in a visual culture and the reading and interpreting of mass media and their signs have become a swiftly increasing concern in the last twenty odd years within the field of geography. These media representations help to structure and form geographies of the everyday and create ideas of how the world appears to the audience. While media geography is an accepted subfield within Anglo-Saxon geography it still lacks acknowledgement and reputation in German-speaking academia. HELLMUT FRÖHLICH is one of the few German geographers confronting the often neglected connection between mass media and life-world geography, in this case the relation of urban and cinematic space.
Veering away from DEAR's (2000) "The postmodern urban condition" and its assumptions on a theory of filmspace, the author tries to cover up an explanation and examination of cinema's influences of film induced perception of urban spaces. Using Berlin and New York as objects of investigation he takes on the holistic concept of spatial imagination to decipher the linkages between spatial perception, human action and the decoding of feature films as an everyday routine. The book demonstrates that the city and cinema are now intertwined in such a way, that one can no longer pry apart image and reality. The volume blends the theoretical and empirical, allowing it to be accessible and useful to students and professionals in a similar way. While doing so, the author provides a complex spatial framework which shatters the dualism between representation and reality, a position which still isn't a matter of course yet.
The empirical part requires more clarification (i.e. the film sample, the sample of interviewed audience), to offer a piece of work which is also appropriate for researchers in the field of media and film studies. The latter stands for the Achilles' heel of the study, the problem of measuring media effects and the resulting impact on audiences. Even if the study cannot provide a satisfying mode to tackle this delicate task it has to be commended for its efforts.
'Das Neue Bild der Stadt' belongs to a series of publications to fully address the relationship between geography and film (the first being AITKEN and ZONN 1994) and presents a good idea about the developments in this field of research which have occurred since AITKEN and ZONN's seminal book. The criticisms, however, are minor in comparison to the overall quality displayed in this book. For those interested in visual media, urban space, or geography and film this book should become required reading.
FRÖHLICH demonstrates that media geography is much more than a hasty trend and that looking at feature films and their perception might offer some forward-looking aspects for an understanding on how cities, spaces and places are perceived.
AITKEN, S. a. ZONN, L. (eds.) (1994): Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle - A Geography of Film. Lanham.
DEAR, M. (2000): The Postmodern Urban Condition.
Autor: Stefan Zimmermann