Germany's first democratic government and its slide into fascist dictatorship have become a universal symbol of the fragility of democracies everywhere. Born out of a devastating defeat in World War I and destabilized by economic and political crises, the new republic seemed doomed from the start. Less predictable was that it would set the stage for a legal takeover by a brutal fascist regime.

And yet "Weimar" is also shorthand for all things modern, not only in its promotion of gender equality and sexual emancipation, but also in its spirit of experimentation in the arts. Weimar is still associated with urban modernity and the ever-present dangers of a backlash. Whatever the final verdict, Weimar's tumultuous 14-year period is one of the richest and most consequential in modern history.

Film was part of this contentious period; indeed, it was its central art form and dominated public life in a way that is hard to imagine today, when the popularity of cinema has been eclipsed by television and the Internet. There was a vibrant film culture, with movie palaces (seating more than 1,000 people) and an annual output of between 200 and 500 new films. Film mattered. Filmmakers invented narratives and images that responded, obliquely and often unconsciously, to the many crises of the struggling republic. To express trauma and paranoia, they developed a cinematic language that is still used today in genres such as horror, science fiction, and film noir. In the final years of Weimar, filmmakers became more politically strident, tackling burning issues such as abortion, social justice, and the legal system. Many of these films were struggling against the increasing dominance of mass cultural fare made for easy consumption.

While the study of Weimar cinema can illuminate our own society, the present moment has also brought to light new aspects of Weimar culture that were previously invisible. This is due to the expansion of the canon through the discovery and restoration of unknown or forgotten films. Archives now offer complete versions of well-known films, as well as lesser-known productions, in a variety of venues and on multiple platforms. The availability of so much new material from the Weimar Republic has contributed to an increasingly nuanced picture of the period. Given this heightened interest in the period, it was our desire to create a repository of resources and chart new directions in the field.


WeimarCinema.org website is an online archive for the research and teaching of Weimar film in its historical and theoretical contexts. Our site menu has the following sections:

FILM DOSSIERS collects historical materials that reconstruct the cultural milieu in which a given film was made and first reviewed. It also illuminates the film’s afterlives including contemporary appropriations in various media. We begin with the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the most iconic films of the period.

PUBLICATIONS provides information on recent scholarly books and articles on Weimar cinema, as well as a backlist of works on the period since 2000. The sheer volume and variety of recent publications testifies to the strong interest in the years between the end of World War I and the beginning of the fascist regime. We also list relevant blogs and websites that have expanded the discourse beyond academia.

RESTORATIONS focuses on the new DVD and Blu-ray releases and the rediscovery of forgotten Weimar gems at silent film festivals in Pordenone, Bologna, San Francisco, Bonn, and Karlsruhe, among others.

RESOURCES provides online tools for archival research and new scholarship, including the legendary "Chronicle of German Film" by Hans Helmut Prinzler.

ESSAYS collects critical writings that experiment (to varying degrees) with online publishing, using Internet links and clips not available in print. We are particularly interested in the international resonances of Weimar film, questions of media theory, and new histories based on previously unknown or forgotten films.


The archive plays a central role in our project, not as a physical place, but (following Michel Foucault in his Archaeology of Knowledge) as a discursive space for the past and possible futures of film. This website provides an opportunity to browse archival material that is waiting to be discovered and brought into dialogue with the present. It is also, ideally, a forum where film historians, film theorists, and film archivists can meet.

Thank you for your interest. For feedback and suggestions, please contact us here.