Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Berlinale documentaries reflect the power of film

A new documentary, apparently, includes Louise Brooks. In Berlin, a showcase of documentary films at this year's Berlinale illustrates the medium's potential to reclaim the past and envision the future. One of those documentaries is Weimar Touch, which looks at the work of G.W. Pabst and others and the influence they had on film making around the world. That's according to the Deutsche Welle website, which goes on to state:
There are very few cities in the world so inextricably tied to the history, seduction and cathartic power of filmmaking than Berlin.

Late 19th-century film pioneers Max and Emil Skladanowsky invented the Bioscop movie projector here in 1895. Some of the most iconic movie stars of all time, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Asta Nielsen, once padded around the studios in Weissensee, Woltorsdorf and Babelsberg.

Here is where Walter Ruttmann directed "Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis" - based on Dziga Vertov's theory of "Kino-Pravda" ("film truth") that reality can best be represented through cinematic "artificialities." In semi-documentary style, the silent film with a musical score portrays the life of a city.

Ruttmann was not alone in creating masterpieces either. The likes of Fritz Lang, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and Georg Wilhelm Pabst made their mark in the Golden Age of German cinema during the 1920s as well. And great thinkers such as Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer grappled with the meaning of these new mechanical, magical, moving images.

And then history took a catastrophic turn - with a Nazi dictatorship that took German cinema into its grip as well.
G.W. Pabst (second from the right) and others associated with Pandora's Box (1929). This picture was taken in 1928, not long after Brooks arrival in Berlin. At first, Pabst envisioned Lulu without bangs or a bob.

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