motion pictures: German Film

The great era of German cinema began in 1919 with Robert Wiene's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It was written by Carl Mayer, who was among the most influential artists working in the German film industry in the 1920s. The films of this era were expressionist in style, paralleling developments in the other arts. Other notable directors, such as G. W. Pabst, F. W. Murnau, Max Ophuls, and Fritz Lang, brought the medium to new heights of imaginative production. A decline set in c.1925 when Hollywood attracted many German directors, technicians, and actors to the United States.

The advent of Hitler drove any remaining top talent abroad, and the industry did not recover its position after the war. Beginning in the early 1970s a group of young filmmakers revitalized the industry, attaining a world audience for their films: Wim Wenders (Kings of the Road and Wings of Desire), Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo) and R. W. Fassbinder (over 40 films, including The Marriage of Maria Braun and Querelle) led the renaissance.

See R. Manvell and H. Fraenkel, The German Cinema (1971); H. H. Wollenberg, Fifty Years of German Film (1948, repr. 1972); T. Elsaesser, New German Cinema (1989); T. Ginsberg, ed., Perspectives on German Film (1996); S. Allan and J. Sandford, ed., Defa: East German Cinema, 1946–1992 (1999); T. Elsaesser and M. Wedel, ed., The BFI Companion to German Cinema (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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