Movies and Film: Germany's Film History

Germany's Film History

One of the most important behind-the-scenes forces in the first 40 years of German film was the UFA, the Universum Film Aktien Gesellschaft, founded in 1917. This government-sponsored production behemoth exercised enormous power in the nation's industry through the end of World War II, during which it was firmly controlled by the Nazis.

Years earlier, though, and months before the Lumire brothers did their business at the Grande Caf in Paris, Max and Emil Skladanowsky held a public showing of motion pictures projected from a device that Emil named the Bioscope. Though the Skladanowsky brothers were thus film pioneers of a sort, for the most part the early history of German cinema is not distinguished.

The country had to wait until the end of World War I for what would become the most influential and lauded German contribution to the history of world cinema. And, most would agree, it was worth the wait. Seemingly out of nowhere, a group of artists emerged to challenge the conventions of the emergent medium and change the face of film forever.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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