From Caligari to Hitler

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    From Caligari to Hitler

    Directed by

    Germany

    2014

    115 min

    • English
    • German

    Documentary

    The Weimar Republic (1918 to 1933), was the freest state on German soil; a wild era characterized by disruption, crisis and cultural brilliance. It was also the most important period of German cinema, a time full of wonders and invention. The aesthetic foundations were laid for the “seventh art”; Weimar’s directors like Murnau, Lang, Lubitsch, Pabst, Wilder, Sternberg and Ruttmann are still legendary today, their stars Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks, Emil Jannings and Conrad Veidt are unforgotten, and films like NOSFERATU, THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI, METROPOLIS, M, PEOPLE ON SUNDAY, BERLIN. SYMPHONY OF A METROPOLIS and BLUE ANGEL unfold their unique aura. Cinema showed German society after World War One in a permanent dance on a volcano, between hedonist lust and latent fear of destruction – an explosive mixture. Siegfried Kracauer described this epoch in “Von Caligari zu Hitler”, the best-known of German film books to date. It tells of shellschock-trauma, fear, crisis and the longings for a leader in German film – in other words: the way in which cinema presaged the era of fashism, anticipated its terror and the moral and political collapse of a liberal society. Investigating this question, and tracing the diversity ands beauty of early filmmaking, the film shows: Weimar cinema is more than ever an unknown continent still to be discovered. Far more than Expressionism, it was New Sobriety, escapist spectacle, thrill and fun – and it looked into the eye of crisis. FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER is an entertaining rollercoaster-trip to the best period of German cinema and into the abyss of German subconscioussness.

    Festivals

    Credits

    Screenplay
    Rüdiger Suchsland
    Cinematography
    Harald Schmuck
    Frank Reimann
    Editing
    Katja Dringenberg
    Music
    Michael Hartmann
    Henrik Albrecht

    Director's Statement

    Youth, freedom, irony, curiosity: Weimar is Modernity at its best and “the” time of German cinema: By far the prime and richest period of our filmmaking. Cinema mirrors the turbulent era of the Twenties. These movies had it all! But more or less everything of it is forgotten, reduced to two or three footnotes. I wanted to take us all to an adventurous trip to this lost time, a trip which should entertain, move, surprise and remind us all to an open wound in our past. Siegfried Kracauer, as well a forgotten genious of cultural critique, is the perfect guide to an era, which is fascinating in its contradictions. This fascination and, yes: my love for this time and its cinema, I hope to share.

    Production
    LOOKS FILMPRODUKTIONEN GMBH
    Sales
    WIDE HOUSE
    Rüdiger Suchsland

    Rüdiger Suchsland

    Germany

    Rüdiger Suchsland lives in Berlin. Studied History, Philosophy and Political Science; works now as a journalist, writer and cultural activist. Primarily a regular contributor and critic for print, radio and internet, he is also a speaker, instructor and author on the thematic subjects of film, history, theory, East Asia, zeitgeist and popular culture. He is a curator in the team of the film-festivals in Mannheim-Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen. Together with Josef Schnelle, he co-authored the book "Zeichen und Wunder: Das Kino von Zhang Yimou und Wong Kar-Wai." (2008).

    Selected Filmography