Saturday, December 30, 2006

German Silent Cinema



A great and very informative documentary on German silent cinema. German expressionism is one of my favourite "national cinema." My first introduction to these films was curiously the famous book From Caligari to Hitler by Siegfried Kracauer. It was there in my college library and though I hadn't seen any of the movies I was captivated by the book. Though to be honest I didn't really read it in full, it was a little too dense for me. I got a chance to see some of these films a couple of years later at a "film festival" organized by the Goethe Institute in Bangalore. So in the course of one week I managed to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Faust, Golem and Metropolis. Every one of them was something I had never seen before. They are still startling. All highly recommended. Later I managed to see Murnau's The Last Laugh and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel which are not really expressionist films but had elements of expressionism. Fritz Lang's M was another masterpiece. I really love all these films. Haven't seen anything by Pabst or Lubitsch yet. They are still in the to-see list.

The video is actually a part of a series on the history of European Cinema. You can watch the first episode here. Rest are on the right sidebar.

Murnau's Nosferatu is also on the google video.

A good primer on German Expressionism.

Wow! Fritz Lang's M and Scarlet Street are also there!

6 comments:

Antonia said...

Kracauer is great and really seldom anyone reads him, yes he has a dense style, but he also has written some novels that are quite easy to read, "Georg" and "Ginster" and also a wonderful book on sociology of big cities etc. (The Mass Ornament) - he is such a brilliant writer who wrote so much stuff and made so many interesting observations....this guy is so much more interesting than for instance Benjamin....rather like Simmel, tho the connection there is the city, not the film....why were you captivated by the book? The style,or that it as about film,or what it says about film?

Alok said...

It wasn't really for the style. Just that i had never come across such a "deep" book on films before. It is a great sociological and cultural analysis of the Weimar-era Germany. Also the way he analyses the ideas behind expressionism in a philosophical manner (about subconscious fears, anxieties and man's need for order and authortiy and many other things) and connects them to the rise of political fascism. Many of his theoretical ideas went above my head. I should get it once again. I think I will understand a lot more of what he says now.

I am not aware of any of his other works. In fact it was only on that amazon link today that I found out that he was friends with Benjamin and Adorno and was part of the same gang as them.

Antonia said...

he is really cool. I wish I had the time to read more of him...you know by now more on german film than me :)

Alok said...

hehe... may be, but most of my knowledge is shallow -- good only for showing off on blogs :)

Antonia said...

you really only have to maintain the appearance, no?
Fassbinder is the best german director, according to my opinion...

Alok said...

yeah thats right. nobody bothers for more than appearance :)

Fassbinder is my favourite German director too. I just love Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven, Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and Fear eats the soul. They are all great movies. I am yet to see his Maria Braun and his TV movie Berlin Alexanderplatz too.