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Weimar Germany

Weimar Germany

Poised at a critical juncture between the devastation of WW1 and the advancing forces of Nazism, the era of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) turned out to be a period of extraordinary artistic ferment. Despite political and economic upheaval, the German film industry thrived in the period, resulting in some of the most iconic cinematic images ever created. In our spotlight on Weimar Germany, we are pleased to present some of the great classics of the 20s and early 30s. Weimar cinema is commonly associated with Expressionism—which emerged from painting and theater to communicate intense emotions, unrestrained sexuality, and anti-bourgeois critique.

METROPOLIS

Fritz Lang Germany, 1927

Easily one of the most iconic films ever made, Fritz Lang’s classic future shock is still thrilling. A propulsive epic and mind-blowing visual symphony, Lang’s deeply influential vision is both the foundation of sci-fi cinema and a time-honored gateway to the expressive wonders of silent film.

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NOSFERATU

F.W. Murnau Germany, 1922

You don’t need sound to be terrified! With its eerie and decaying gothic atmosphere, and Max Schreck’s unforgettable, otherworldly vampire, F.W. Murnau’s Expressionist horror masterpiece seems to get increasingly disturbing as time passes. Cloaked in light and shadow, it creates a symphony of dread.

FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER: GERMAN CINEMA IN THE AGE OF THE MASSES

Rüdiger Suchsland Germany, 2014

What does the cinema know that we don’t? Rüdiger Suchsland’s sweeping doc on the cinema of Weimar Germany visualizes Siegfried Kracauer’s potent thesis from the influential 1947 book. Using beautiful restorations of films by Lang, Murnau and others, it contextualizes the period and its masterpieces.

THE LAST LAUGH

F.W. Murnau Germany, 1924

A dazzling and groundbreaking drama of modern city life from the German master of silent cinema, F.W. Murnau (Faust). Emil Jannings delivers one of Weimar German cinema’s most indelible (and melancholic!) performances in a story that spans the full range of epic tragedy and breathtaking beauty.

THE BLUE ANGEL

Josef von Sternberg Germany, 1930

With their seven film partnership, Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich traced a path of lush, scandalous romantic fantasies, of which The Blue Angel was their first. A masterpiece of relationship masochism, The Last Laugh’s Emil Jannings wilts before Dietrich, in her career-making role.

SPIES

Fritz Lang Germany, 1928

Talk about an opening sequence! A fan favorite and the most underrated of Fritz Lang’s Weimar “superfilms,” Spies is a caper for the ages. Predating the adventures of Bond and Tintin, Lang invents the modern spy film: crackling with twists, disguises, gadgetry, narrow escapes, and forbidden love.