Journal Article

‘My country has (never) suffered defeat’: Adapting Defoe’s <i>Robinson Crusoe</i> for Postwar European Television

Margitta Rouse

in Adaptation

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 185-202
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI:
‘My country has (never) suffered defeat’: Adapting Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe for Postwar European Television

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Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoë was a European co-production directed by Jean Sacha in 1964 in the light of the so-called second history of the Nazi era, that is, post-1945 Germany’s complex engagement with the Nazi past. Tailored to appeal to heterogeneous postwar nations and generations, different versions of the TV series were created, drawing mostly on the same visual material but employing radically different voiceovers. In Germany, Crusoe performed powerful cultural work since it not only explored ‘German’ suffering and re-viewed fantasies of Aryan supremacy, but also presented a critical view of British colonialism. Within the relatively young medium of television, the Crusoe miniseries granted the Federal Republic the opportunity to recast Germany’s political future as young and adventurous, and to present the crimes of its Nazi past as those of a naive adolescent sinner. This investigation sheds light on various ways in which the German version was designed not only to criticize but also to sustain certain Nazi discourses, such as a very specific Nazi critique of British colonialism, and how this criticism relates to the wider context of a neo-imperial project in the postwar period.

Keywords: Adaptation; Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’; Jean Sacha’s ‘Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoë’ (1964); German postwar TV; British postwar TV; Nazi critique of British colonialism

Journal Article.  8704 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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