What's wrong with modern cinema

Metropolis, Nosferatu, The Blue Angel, In the West Nothing new: not everyone will have seen these films, but most of them know the titles. Amazing, because they are not exactly the blockbusters of 2019. But they were once very new and modern, namely in the Weimar Republic. At that time, talkies were just replacing silent films. There weren't any films at home yet; anyone who wanted to see moving pictures went to the cinema.

Time travel over three floors

The exhibition “Modern Cinema. Film in der Weimarer Republik ”, which can be seen until October 13, 2019 in the Deutsche Kinemathek at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. A journey through time over three floors with 23 main topics, some of which sound very modern, e.g. B. “Stars and Fans”. Behind this is the fact that in the 1920s in Germany a star and fan culture based on the model of Hollywood, which we know to this day, developed for the first time. Except that the stars and starlets of the 1920s didn't post, but had postcards printed. And in order to follow their stars, the fans romped not as followers on Instagram, but at autograph sessions to meet the film greats not only on the screen, but in real life and in color.

Mirror of society

It is interesting that the exhibition not only tells a lot about film and cinema, but also about society during the Weimar Republic. Because the films that were made back then are a mirror of the zeitgeist. They take up everyday topics. At the same time, the film itself became the leading medium in the Weimar Republic, setting trends and role models. So it is z. B. on the subject of fashion. There were films about fashion shows and beauty pageants. Film costumes and cloakrooms of the stars were shown in magazines and presented as a style.

Lifestyle of the 1920s

Fashion, all well and good, but does the exhibition also tell you something about politics in the Weimar Republic? Yes, one chapter of the exhibition is described as “Politics and Censorship”, another as “Social”. Here it is shown that it was mainly documentaries that drew attention to social misery. And that after a short period of censorship there was a binding regulation on censorship from 1920. But I have the impression that the exhibition is more about illustrating the attitude towards life of the 1920s, which is reflected in films. This is achieved through skillful staging. So z. For example, on the subject of “urbanity”, backdrops, skyscraper models, photo collages, costume pictures and posters are combined and staged in such a way that something of “Metropolis” and “The Symphony of the Big City” can be felt. And of course you can also see excerpts from the two films from 1927.

Weimar, female

One of the great merits of the exhibition is that it devotes a large amount of space to women directors, screenwriters and actresses from the 1920s under the focus on “Weimar, female”. After the First World War, many women took advantage of the new career opportunities that were offered to them in the increasingly important film industry. Many of them have been forgotten, e.g. B. because her career ended with the transition from silent to sound film. This was the case with Rosa Porten, for example, who wrote over twenty silent film scripts, staged a few silent films with her husband and was often in front of the camera. She retired into private life before the end of the silent film era, tried again as an actress in 1950, but without success.

Ostracized from 1933

Others were forgotten because they had to flee from the Nazis in the 1930s. This is what happened to the Jewish-Austrian musician, writer and screenwriter Vicky Baum. She emigrated to the USA in 1932 and was very successful there. In Germany and Austria, however, she was reviled as a “Jewish asphalt writer”; her works fell victim to the book burning on May 10, 1933 by the National Socialists. The exhibition “Kino der Moderne” in the Deutsche Kinemathek draws attention to these and other biographies of forgotten female artists. And that is a very good thing.