Calling the Nation: Karl Hartl's F.P. 1 antwortet nicht (1932)
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The article analyzes a rare German science fiction film produced at the end of the Weimar period, with special attention to its complex use of sound in the presentation of telecommunications and other new audio media in the context of a shifting geo-political climate. Produced just before Hitler assumed the chancellorship of Germany, Hartl's film, F.P. 1 antwortet nicht [F.P. 1 Doesn't Answer] draws on the military-industrial complex, public media practices, and advances in telecommunications and cinematic technologies to present the nation as a networked, "sonic" space. The film's portrayal of the design and construction of a landing platform in the Atlantic, told through a series of telephone calls, telegrams, telegraphs, and wireless transmissions, underscores linkages between geo-politics and telecommunications, while exploiting advances in cinematic sound recording, including the musical soundtrack. Although wireless communications (especially radio) may render physical frontiers obsolete and thereby serve to oppose national coherence, they simultaneously serve to reinforce the unity of national culture. Hartl's film likewise underscores the conflict between instability, impermanence, and unpredictability, on the one hand, and constancy, endurance, and prescription, on the other, between deterritorialization and normativity. These dual impulses are further embodied in the clash between the film's leading men: the pilot and the engineer. In the near-future of the film, the concept of Heimat or "home" is not a physical but an aural construction. Dominated by sound transmissions, the film neglects the visual spectacle of most science fiction, but thereby emphasizes the role of audio technologies in the construction of the nation. © South Central Review.
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