Thirty-one films are to be presented in five chapters: “Rhythm and Laughter”, “‘Unheimlich’ – The Dark Side”, “Light and Shadow”, “Variations”, and “Know Your Enemy”. Under the heading “Rhythm and Laughter” are works that draw on sound film operettas, music films and comedies – genres of Weimar cinema that were significantly influenced by Jewish filmmakers. Here audiences will find (Austria/Hungary 1934) by Hermann Kosterlitz. In this pointedly socially critical comedy with touches of a sound film operetta, Francisca Gaál gives an unconventional and stirring performance in the title role, a so-called “trouser role”. Another rediscovery is the recently restored Dutch film, Komedie om Geld (1936) by Max Ophüls. The cameraman was Eugen Schüfftan, who later went on to win an Oscar. The Retrospective would be hard to imagine without Billy Wilder, whose film Some Like It Hot (USA 1959) put the subversive humour and frivolous travesty of Weimar cinema into an American context.
“‘Unheimlich’ – The Dark Side”: In the 1930s, intensely scary crime films concentrated on the dark side of the human psyche and society. In post-war USA, these works contributed to shaping the genre of film noir, whose directors were for the most part German film emigrants. For instance, Robert Siodmak made the film Pièges (Traps, France 1939) while he was exiled in Paris.
Remakes of classics from the Weimar Republic and films modelled on films from this period will be screening under the heading “Variations”. This includes Joseph Losey’s 1951 adaptation of Fritz Lang’s work of the same name, M (1931); and Victor Saville’s First a Girl (GB 1935), which is based on Reinhold Schünzel’s Viktor und Viktoria (Viktor and Viktoria, Germany 1933).
“Know Your Enemy” will show films that took a stand against the Nazi regime. Ernst Lubitsch’s classic To Be or Not to Be (USA 1942) will be presented alongside Ludwig Berger’s almost unknown work, the Dutch film Ergens in Nederland (Somewhere in the Netherlands, 1940). This melodrama about a relationship focuses on the threat of a German invasion that actually came to pass in May 1940. With its brilliant cast of predominantly European actors, Casablanca (USA 1942) by Michael Curtiz is indisputably the most popular of all emigrant films.
“The Weimar Touch” is the first Retrospective to be curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The members of the Curatorial Board are Rainer Rother (Section Director of the Retrospective and Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek), Rajendra Roy (Chief Curator of Film at MoMA), Lawrence Kardish (former Senior Curator of Film at MoMA), Connie Betz (Deutsche Kinemathek, Programme Coordinator Retrospective), and Hans-Michael Bock (CineGraph, Hamburg).
The films of the Retrospective will be screened in the CinemaxX at Potsdamer Platz and the Zeughauskino. The programme will be accompanied by a series of events organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek. A brochure will be published on the Retrospective. Beginning in April 2013, films from the Retrospective will also be shown at the MoMA in New York.