In 1962, inspired by the French New Wave, a group of West German filmmakers issued the Oberhausen Manifesto, which called for “the new German feature film.”
The collapse of the conventional German film finally removes the economic basis for a mode of filmmaking whose attitude and practice we reject. With it the new film has a chance to come to life. German short films by young authors, directors, and producers have in recent years received a large number of prizes at international festivals and gained the recognition of international critics. These works and these successes show that the future of the German film lies in the hands of those who have proven that they speak a new film language. Just as in other countries, the short film has become in Germany a school and experimental basis for the feature film. We declare our intention to create the new German feature film. This new film needs new freedoms. Freedom from the conventions of the established industry. Freedom from the outside influence of commercial partners. Freedom from the control of special interest groups. We have concrete intellectual, formal, and economic conceptions about the production of the new German film We are as a collective prepared to take economic risks. The old film is dead. We believe in the new one.
Oberhausen, February 28, 1962
Bodo Blüthner Boris von Borresholm Christian Doermer Bernhard Dörries Heinz Furchner Rob Houwer Ferdinand Khittl Alexander Kluge Pitt Koch Walter Krüttner Dieter Lemmel Hans Loeper Ronald Martini Hansjürgen Pohland Raimond Ruehl Edgar Reitz Peter Schamoni Detten Schleiermacher Fritz Schwennicke Haro Senft Franz-Josef Spieker Hans Rolf Strobel Heinz Tichawsky Wolfgang Urchs Herbert Vesely Wolf Wirth
This attempt at a new, meaningful film culture, although not economically successful, did eventually evolve into a strong industry that was receiving international acclaim by the late 60s and on into the 70s. Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff stood in the forefront of this Neu Welle, the German "New Wave".
Wim Wenders, one of the Neu Welle directors stated "All my films have as their underlying current the Americanization of Germany. I see my own films as American". As the international popularity of these German dirctors increased, motion picture attendance in West Germany continued to decline. These films challenged tradition and were often critical of bourgeois society and irreverent in their treatment of German history.