Berlinale: Retrospective

Retrospective 2018:
“Weimar Cinema Revisited”

Margot Ferra in Das Lied vom Leben by Alexis Granowsky, Germany 1931

The Retrospective of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival will focus on the great variety of cinema in the Weimar era. Some one hundred years ago, at the end of World War I and the dawn of the Weimar Republic, one of the most productive and influential phases in German filmmaking began unfolding, a creative era that went on to shape international perception of the country’s film culture, even to the present day. For “Weimar Cinema Revisited”, the festival will present a total of 28 programmes of narrative, documentary, and short films made between 1918 and 1933.

“Across genres, the Retrospective will document the Weimar Republic’s zeitgeist and tackle issues of identity. The spectrum encompasses zesty film operettas and comedies full of wordplay, as well as films with strong social and political viewpoints. The films are incredibly fresh and topical,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

The Retrospective has three thematic emphases – “exotic”, “quotidian”, and “history”. In Im Auto durch zwei Welten (1927-1931) Clärenore Stinnes and Carl Axel Söderström take audiences on a fantastic trip to exotic, faraway lands. In Menschen im Busch (1930), an early example of ethnographic cinema, Friedrich Dalsheim and Gulla Pfeffer observe the unspectacular daily life of a family in Togo, breaking new ground by allowing the subjects themselves to speak instead of relying entirely on off-camera narration. The short films of documentarians such as Ella Bergmann-Michel, Winfried Basse, and Ernö Metzner capture 1920s life in Berlin and Frankfurt. In Brothers (1929), director Werner Hochbaum looks at a proletarian family and an existence marked by material deprivation. The film, which was backed by Germany’s Social Democratic Party, gains great authenticity with its use of amateur actors, and setting it during Hamburg’s 1896/97 dockworkers’ strike provides a reference to the contentious political issues of the 1920s. Heinz Paul is equally critical and sober with his portrayal of fresh historical events in The Other Side (1931). Conrad Veidt plays a traumatized British captain in World War I in Paul’s unsparing depiction of the senselessness and barbarity of the trench war.

Die Unehelichen by Gerhard Lamprecht, Germany 1925, Fee Wachsmuth, Ralph Ludwig, Margot Misch (from left to right)

“The Berlinale has already dedicated considerable Retrospectives to prominent directors and stars of Weimar¬ era cinema. Now, with this thematic look back, it’s time to turn our attention to the films that are not necessarily part of the inner canon,” says Rainer Rother, head of the Retrospective and artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen.

The diversity of the Weimar film landscape is best grasped via the works of filmmakers who are not usually counted among the great and prominent directors of the era. The variety of the films, by directors as varied as Franz Seitz, Sr. (Der Favorit der Königin, 1922), Hermann Kosterlitz (The Adventure of Thea Roland, 1932), and Erich Waschneck (Docks of Hamburg, 1928), is evident in the abundance of not only differing subject matter, stories, and characters, but also aesthetic approach. Looking at this legendary epoch in German film history from a new perspective reinforces its artistic reputation.

Among the highlights of the Retrospective will be premiere screenings of films that have been newly restored by leading German archives and film institutions. The festival will be presenting the mountain epic Fight for the Matterhorn (Mario Bonnard, Nunzio Malasomma, 1928), Robert Reinert’s monumental Opium (1919), as well as a two-part film long thought lost – Urban Gad’s Christian Wahnschaffe (part 1: World Afire, 1920, part 2: The Escape from the Golden Prison, 1921), based on Jakob Wassermann’s 1919 novel The World’s Illusion.

Milak, der Grönlandjäger by Georg Asagaroff, Bernhard Villinger, Germany 1927

Most of the silent film screenings will be accompanied by music played live by internationally renowned musicians. Maud Nelissen and Stephen Horne are familiar faces to Retrospective audiences. Günter Buchwald will be celebrating 40 years as a silent film accompanist in 2018. And a newcomer to the Berlin festival is young pianist Richard Siedhoff, who has already made a name for himself playing at important silent film galas, as well as contributing music to various DVD editions.

The German-language book “Weimarer Kino – neu gesehen” will be published by the Bertz + Fischer house as a companion piece to the Retrospective. The richly illustrated volume will present essays by well-known film experts and directors, who will write on many as yet lesser-known aspects of Weimar-era cinema.

The Retrospective film programme will once again be accompanied by a host of special sidebar events in the Deutsche Kinemathek.

We would like to thank our partners for their support: the German Federal Film Archive, the Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF, the Filmmuseum München, and the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung.

Since 1977, the Berlin International Film Festival has organised film history Retrospectives in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen. The Retrospective is always dedicated to an important director or a film history theme. The Retrospective brings German and international films back to the big screen, often with a restored version or new copy. Contemporary film is positioned within a historical context.

Berlinale Classics

Beginning in 2013, the Retrospective expanded to include presentations of Berlinale Classics. By integrating current restorations of film classics as well as rediscovered films in brilliant image and sound a forum is created to premiere the growing number of high-quality restorations and reconstructions that make use of new digital-processing technologies.

As a rule, films screened in Berlinale Classics are introduced by a prominent festival guest. Berlinale Classics carries on the Retrospective torch by presenting new restorations independently of the Retrospective’s current theme, and is supported through co-operations with international partners.

The Retrospective has been managed by the Deutsche Kinemathek since 1977 that has organised the following Retrospectives:

  • Future Imperfect. Science · Fiction · Film (2017)
  • Germany 1966 – Redefining Cinema (2016)
  • Glorious Technicolor. From George Eastman House and Beyond (2015)
  • Aesthetics of Shadow. Lighting Styles 1915–1950 (2014)
  • The Weimar Touch. The International Influence of Weimar Cinema after 1933 (2013)
  • The Red Dream Factory. Mezhrabpom-Film and Prometheus 1921–1936 (2012)
  • Ingmar Bergman. Film as life and life as film (2011)
  • PLAY IT AGAIN…! 60 Years Berlinale (2010)
  • 70 mm - Bigger than Life (2009)
  • Luis Buñuel (2008)
  • City Girls. Images of Women in Silent Film (2007)
  • Dream Girls. Film Stars in the 1950s (2006)
  • Production Design + Film. Locations, Settings, Spaces (2005)
  • New Hollywood 1967-1976. Trouble in Wonderland (2004)
  • F. W. Murnau (2003)
  • European 60’s (2002)
  • Fritz Lang (2001)
  • Artificial People (2000)
  • Otto Preminger (1999)
  • Siodmak Bros. Berlin – London – Paris – Hollywood (1998)
  • G. W. Pabst (1997)
  • William Wyler (1996)
  • Happy Birthday, Cinema! (1995)
    Buster Keaton 100
    Slapstick & Co.
  • Erich von Stroheim (1994)
  • CinemaScope (1993)
  • Babelsberg. A film studio (1992)
  • Cold War (1991)
  • The Year 1945 (1990)
    40 Years Berlinale
  • Europe 1939 (1989)
    Erich Pommer
  • Colour. The History of Colour Film (1988)
  • Rouben Mamoulian (1987)
  • Henny Porten (1986)
  • Special Effects (1985)
  • Ernst Lubitsch 1914-1933 (1984)
  • Exile. Six Actors from Germany (1983)
  • Insurrection of Emotions: Curtis Bernhardt (1982)
    East German Children’s Films
  • The Producer: The Films of Michael Balcon (1981)
  • Billy Wilder (1980)
    3D Films
  • Rudolph Valentino (1979)
    We Danced Around the World. Revue Films
  • Marlene Dietrich, Part 2 (1978)
    Censorship – Banned German Films 1933-1945
  • Marlene Dietrich, Part 1 (1977)
    Love, Death and Technology. Cinema of the Fantastical 1933-1945


  • Eleanor Powell
  • Conrad Veidt, Part 2
  • Great German Films 1929-1932
  • German Short Films of the 1930s, Part 2


  • Greta Garbo
  • Conrad Veidt, Part 1
  • German Short Films of the 1930s, Part 1


  • Lilian Harvey
  • Jacques Feyder
  • Norman McLaren


  • Wilhelm/William Dieterle
  • American Musicals
  • Animations by Dave Fleischer


  • Douglas Fairbanks
  • Ludwig Berger
  • American Animations 1940-1955


  • Busby Berkeley
  • Eddie Cantor


  • Winners of the “Golden Bears” and other Berlinale films
  • Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire


  • Abel Gance
  • Musicals 1929-1950
  • Oskar Fischinger


  • Ernst Lubitsch, Part 2
  • W. C. Fields


  • Ernst Lubitsch, Part 1
  • Harry Langdon


  • Cinema Novo
  • Max Ophüls
  • Mack Sennett


  • Masterpieces of German Film1895-1932


  • Louis Lumière
  • Pola Negri
  • Paul Leni


  • Elisabeth Bergner
  • E. A. Dupont
  • Karl Grune
  • Yasujiro Ozu


  • Asta Nielsen
  • G. W. Pabst
  • Ingmar Bergman


  • Richard Oswald
  • Billy Wilder
  • Akira Kurosawa


  • 10 Years Golden Berlin Bear
  • Musicals from 1930-1945
  • Musicals from 1930-1945 (Experimental film special programme)


  • International Masterpieces from the Early Years of Talkies


  • Masterpieces of International Film from 1915 to 1945


  • German Artists in Foreign Film


  • The Humour of Nations


  • 60 Years Film


  • Showcase of Famous Films


  • Silent Movies


Retrospective & Homage
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