“Metropolis” (1927), “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920), “M” (1931), “Nosferatu” (1922), “People on Sunday” (1930) and “Berlin, Symphony of a Metropolis” (1927) all rank among the classics and most influential films of European Cinema.
Siegfried Kracauer, who wrote the groundbreaking book ‘From Caligari to Hitler’ (1947) on this ‘Weimar Cinema’, is a central figure, as is Fritz Lang, the most versatile of all Weimar directors. The viewer will encounter the cast members of the young Republic’s stage: Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks, Emil Jannings, directors such as G.W.Pabst and F.W. Murnau, writers like Billy Wilder and many more – those who helped shape the new art of cinema.
The Weimar Republic, from 1918 to 1933, was the freest state on German soil; a wild era characterized by political disruption, economic crisis and cultural brilliance. It was also the most important period of German cinema, even to the present day.
Cinema concentrated many tendencies of the period after the First World War: a latent fear of destruction in German society as it danced on a volcano, between hedonist lust and inevitable crisis – an explosive mixture. ‘From Caligari to Hitler’ tells of world war trauma, the fear of crisis, and the longings for a leader in German film – in other words: the way in which film presaged the era of totalitarianism and anticipated its events.
What does cinema know that we do not?
Suchsland’s film investigates this question, tracing the diversity and riches of this film epoch. He shows that Weimar cinema was far more than Expressionism. It reflected the new possibilities, the sense of departure in a young republic.