Weimar Film Still Image

Eugen Klöpfer in Karl Grune's Die Strasse (1923). Still from the 2023 restored version. Courtesy of Stephan Drössler.

Note from the Editors

Welcome to the third edition since the launch of WeimarCinema.org a year ago. After developing the site as an online archive and forum for research, we would like to start a new focus on Weimar Classics. "Film Dossiers” will bring together archival and contemporary materials about the production, distribution, and reception of iconic films that have become part of world cinema. These dossiers can be used as supplementary reading in film history classes. Our first dossier on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari will be followed by dossiers on Nosferatu, Metropolis, and other classics in due course.

In Memory of Hans Helmut Prinzler

We mourn the passing of Hans Helmut Prinzler, who died on June 18 at the age of 85. He was our friend for more than 40 years, a mentor and supporter of our work, and an inspiration as an archaeologist and chronicler of German film history. He was actively involved in the planning of this website and supported it by allowing us to reprint the Weimar section of his legendary Chronik des Deutschen Films, now in English.
Hans Helmut dedicated his life to promoting the presence of film and preserving the memory of films, first as director of the Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin, where a large library now bears his name, and curator of elaborate retrospectives at the Berlin Film Festival on Ufa and Babelsberg as well as on directors such as Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, G. W. Pabst, and Robert Siodmak. He was also co-editor of the first comprehensive Geschichte des deutschen Films (1993) and, as co-editor of the Hanser Reihe Film, was responsible for a series of monographs on European and American directors. In 2013, his large-format and lavishly illustrated Sirens and Sinners: A Visual History of Weimar Film 1918-1933 appeared, a volume, as one critic put it, that has “everything the Weimar film cognoscenti would want.” For an incredible span of over 60 years, from 1961 to 2023, he wrote innumerable reviews in which he documented the full range of film books and books about cinema. Six days a week, starting in early 2007, his blog would provide coverage of films, personalities, festivals, and recent DVD editions. Antje Goldau, his wife, told us that he worked from his hospital bed to complete his last entry devoted to Optische Literatur, his choice for the Film Book of the Month for June 2023.
There are no words to express the sadness we feel. We will miss his generous spirit, his love of film, and his inimitable blend of kindness, enthusiasm and Sachlichkeit. We would like to give him the last word by publishing (in translation) a speech he delivered at the German Film Academy on February 10, 2008, entitled "If Only I Had the Cinema." It underscores his deep conviction that the past can serve as a guide for the future; it also captures his life-affirming and life- enriching passion for film that we will always associate with his memory.
Tony Kaes and Rick Rentschler
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A review essay by Michael Wedel on new trends in recent books on Weimar film
A program note by Stefan Drössler for his restoration of Karl Grune's Die Strasse
A preview for the Silent Film Festival in Pordenone, October 7-14, 2023. More than usual Weimar films will be shown there this year: Die Strasse (Karl Grune), Der Berg des Schicksals (Arnold Fanck), Eine Frau von Format (Fritz Wendhausen), a Harry Piel series (8 films) and several Karl Valentin shorts. You can also watch some of these German films online between October 7 and 14. For more information, click here.


Last Laugh

Camden House - German Film Classics
Last Laugh Cover Image

Finance and the World Economy in Weimar Cinema

Amsterdam University Press,2023.
Last Laugh Cover Image

Different from the Others

McGill Queen's University Press, 2023
Anders als Die Andern Cover Image


Berlin's Deutsche Kinemathek celebrated its 60th anniversary by opening a new exhibition “ArchiVistas – Past Traces and Future Perspectives” (until 5 May 1924) and launching an online magazine Insights – das Magazin der Kinemathek.

A new restoration of Die Straße, Karl Grune's influential 1923 film will be screened at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in October 2023. This restoration by Stefan Drössler (Filmmuseum München) has been eagerly awaited. We are pleased to publish an early version of Drössler's introductory essay for the Pordenone catalogue. A DVD edition of the restored version is planned for a later date. The essay can be found here.

Upcoming workshop: "Provincializing Weimar Culture: Global and Local Perspectives on Interwar Germany" is the title of a workshop to be held in Utrecht (NL) on April 25-26, 2024. The workshop will be organized by Nicholas Baer, Jochen Hung and Britta Schilling, with a keynote by Uta Poiger on "Weimar and Now: Culture, Race, Politics". For more information, please click here.

100! Jahre Stummfilm is the title of a three-month film festival (until September 10). It takes place at Berlin's famous Babylon, which dates back to 1929 and still uses its original cinema organ. Curated by Friedemann Beyer, the series includes many rarely seen German films such as Fräulein Raffke (Richard Eichberg, 1923), Das alte Gesetz (E.A. Dupont, 1923), Buddenbrooks (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1923), Erdgeist (Leopold Jessner, 1923), Der Schatz (G.W. Pabst, 1923), and Schlagende Wetter (Karl Grune, 1923), among others. For the full program, click here.

Film History as Media Archaeology. When Thomas Elsaesser died unexpectedly in Beijing on December 4, 2019, he had just given a lecture on film history as media archaeology at Peking University and participated in a roundtable discussion with Siegfried Zielinski. His sudden death came as a shock to scholars of film theory and history everywhere. Thomas was a pioneer in Weimar film studies, most notably with his magisterial Weimar Cinema and After: Germany's Historical Imaginary (BFI, 2000). As a small, belated tribute to his prodigious life's work, we are pleased to link to the full transcript of his final lecture and the ensuing discussion with Zielinski and the audience about the current state of cinema and media archaeology. The conversation was first published in Interface Critique 3 (2021) under the title "Conversations on Cinema and Media Archaeology - in memoriam Thomas Elsaesser (1943-2019)". We add the conference program here and a short video clip of the Q&A here. Many thanks to Prof. Zielinski for bringing this unique documentation to our attention.

Ein Sommernachstraum (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Hans Neumann's forgotten 1925 masterpiece, premiered in a newly restored print at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in July 2023. Chris Horak, who had initiated the restoration at UCLA, wrote a lengthy blog entry about the film here Archival Spaces 327.

Weimar Cinema in 90 seconds? Here is the short trailer for "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams: Weimar Cinema 1919-1933,” a BFI Southbank series of nine landmark films from the period. The brilliantly edited clip is intended to "celebrate the sheer diversity of styles and genres from the groundbreaking creative era of Weimar cinema.”

The Weimar Years is the title of a BBC 3 podcast consisting of five 18-minute episodes. Each episode focuses on a specific theme: history (episode 1), art (2), sexuality (3), cinema (4), and Weimar music and song (5). More details here.

The Haunted Screen: Film History is World History is a podcast about the history of Weimar cinema in 6 episodes of about 90 minutes each. More details here.

Mission 1929 - Das Online Game appeared in January 2023 as part of the outreach program of The House of the Weimar Republic, which opened in Weimar at the republic’s centennial in 2019 and is dedicated to all things Weimar. The interactive online game (in German) wants to teach young Germans how precious democracy is and how quickly it can vanish. The online game is accompanied by an interactive Online-Lernmodule (learning platform) featuring several short films about Revolution und Aufbruch; Krisen der Anfangsjahre; Die goldenen Zwanziger; Die Zerstörung. The game is also promoted by a YouTube trailer. See also Browsergame Mission 1929.

All Quiet on the Western Front wins four Oscars – for best camera, film music, and production design, as well as the Oscar for best International Feature Film in 2023. See the acceptance speech here. The BBC interview with the lead actor is here. Deutsche Welle produced a short feature about the politics of this film, and several hundred users responded. All Quiet on the Western Front was produced by Netflix and directed by the German director Edward Berger. It currently streams on Netflix in German with English subtitles. The film is an adaptation of the influential American film with the same title from 1930. Both are based on internationally famous antiwar novel Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque published in 1929. Read about the highly contested German reception of this American film in the polarized climate of Germany in December 1930 in this dossier. The reaction to this antiwar film in 1930 was even more heated than the debate about Potemkin in 1926. See the dossier on Potemkin’s German reception here.

German cinema and the effects of inflation in 1923 is the topic of a new film series, Die Freudlose Gasse: Die Auswirkungen von 1923 im Kino der Weimarer Republik, presented by the Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt (DFF) in May 2023. See details (in German) here. The film series accompanies a new exhibition with the title “ ``Weimar, weiblich: Frauen und Geschlechtervielfalt im Kino der Moderne, 1918-1933” at the same venue from March 29 to November 12, 2023. More details (in German) here.

Babylon Berlin Season 4, co-produced between paid television network Sky and German public broadcasting company ARD, was shown on Sky in late 2022; it’s expected to start in Germany on ARD not until Fall of 2023 and on Netflix some time in 2024. Read the latest on this delay here.

ON SET. Filmstadt Berlin is a new app from the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek that allows you to explore film locations and sets of Weimar films with the help of Augmented Reality (AR). Check here. See also the smartphone version in Google Play Store.

Memories of Desire, a 2019 autobiographical film by Victoria Schultz is an example of the international afterlife of German Expressionism. This rarely-seen film was the subject of a recent blog post by the Finnish film critic, Antti Alanen. Commenting on the black and white, sharp-contrast film, he writes: “The mode has affinities with the Kammerspiel films of the Weimar Republic such as Schatten and the whole théâtre intime cycle written by Carl Mayer. These are films of interiority, starkly abstracted with stylized characters, spaces often overwhelmed by large shadows.” See also Schultz’s website.

Phantome der Nacht. 100 Jahre Nosferatu is the title of a new exhibition by the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg) between December 16, 2022 and April 23, 2023. For more details, check here.

Babylon Berlin Season 4 premiered in Germany on Sky Atlantic on October 14, 2022. No date has been set for the subtitled version on Netflix. While Seasons 1-3 have focused on events in 1929, Season 4 concentrates on 1930/1931. For more details about Season 4, check here(Guardian), here(trailer), here(short episode list), and here(Reddit discussion thread).

Weimar, weiblich: Frauen und Geschlechtervielfalt im Kino der Moderne, 1918-1933 is the title of a new exhibition at the Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt. It is planned for the end of March 2023. More details (in German) here.

Women in German Dissertation Prize 2022: Mary E. Hennessy, Handmaidens of Modernity: Gender, Labor and Media in Weimar Germany. 2021. U of Michigan, PhD dissertation. See Feminist German Studies (Volume 38, Number 2) Fall/Winter 2022, 132.

1923 -- This fateful year is the subject of no fewer than seven books published in 2022 (a year ahead of its centennial). For the political, social, and cultural context of films produced at the time, see the following titles:
Volker Ulrich: Deutschland 1923. Das Jahr am Abgrund. Munich: C.H. Beck Verlag, 2022;
Jutta Hoffritz: Totentanz. 1923 und seine Folgen. Hambug: HarperCollins Verlag, 1922;
Peter Süß: 1923. Endstation. Alles einsteigen! Berlin: Berenberg Verlag, 1922;
Peter Longerich: Außer Kontrolle. Deutschland 1923. Wien/Graz: Molden Verlag, 2022;
Peter Reichel: Rettung der Republik? Deutschland im Krisenjahr 1923; Munich: Hanser Verlag, 1922:
Christian Bommarius, Im Rausch des Aufruhrs. Deutschland 1923. Munich: DTV, 2020;
Nikolai Hannig and Detleve Manes, eds. Krise! Wie 1923 die Welt erschütterte. Berlin: Wbg Academic, 2022.
See also a review of the first five titles by Alexander Gallus, Das Weimarer Doppelgesicht, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (November 28, 2022).

Nicolas Cage paid homage to The Cabinet of Caligari, in his 2022 Film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. The homage was depicted in a scene, which did not make the final cut (it was too artsy for the studio), but can be viewed here. The black-and-white scene imitated the silent film's setting and lighting. According to IndieWire (June 2022), Cage said: “I always designed my performances with the cinematic dream of getting back to silent film performance in general, and German Expressionism in particular.”

All Quiet on the Western Front, a filmic adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s blockbuster anti-war novel “Im Westen nichts Neues” (1929) by the German director Edward Berger, premieres in a subtitled version on Netflix on October 27, 2022. This film is also Germany’s entry for the 2023 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. See reviews of the German film in USA Today, NPR, and New York Times. The Dossier on the German reception of the 1930 American adaptation is available here.

A new restoration by the Deutsche Kinemathek of Razzia in St. Pauli (Werner Hochbaum 1932) premiered this fall at the 2022 Budapest Classics Film Marathon.

The Haunted Screen is the title of a six-part narrative podcast about Weimar cinema (available through Apple or Google Podcasts and Spotify). The six episodes are written and presented by Travis Mushett, professor of film & media at Fordham University. They run between 60 and 90 minutes each and concentrate on the classic films and directors. They are remarkably well researched and easy to listen to. A brief article about the podcast can be found here. (Thanks to Rick Rentschler for the tip.)

The Pordenone Silent Film Festival is the world’s leading international silent-film festival. Each October, many hundreds of archivists and scholars from around the world meet to see the most recent restorations of silent films. The festival has screened more than than 300 films from the Weimar Republic since it began in 1982. For a complete database of Weimar films shown between 1982 and 2018, click here.

Fritz Lang made a brief audio recording (“Leitworte”) about the universal language of cinema to mark the premiere of Metropolis in January 1927. The recording, transcript, and translation are here

Filmportal.de offers a succinct introduction to Weimar film in English (with valuable links to historical documents in translation). Check here

Geschichte des dokumentarischen Films in Deutschland, vol. 2, the authoritative 673- page history of documentary cinema in the Weimar Republic, is now available online. Edited by Klaus Kreimeier, Antje Ehmann and Jean-Paul Goergen, it was published by Reclam in 2005. Vol. 1 (Kaiserreich) and vol. 3 (Drittes Reich) are also online. Vol. 4 (nach 1945) is in production.

Zensurkarten -- An extensive collection of German film censorship records is now digitized and available online. (Thanks to Oliver Hanley for sharing this information here).
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