From Caligari to Hitler
German Cinema in the Age of Masses


The Weimar Republic (1918 to 1933), was the freest state on German soil; a wild era characterized by disruption, crisis and cultural brilliance. It was also the most important period of German cinema, a time full of wonders and invention. The aesthetic foundations were laid for the “seventh art”; Weimar’s directors like Murnau, Lang, Lubitsch, Pabst, Wilder, Sternberg and Ruttmann are still legendary today, their stars Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks, Emil Jannings and Conrad Veidt are unforgotten, and films like “Nosferatu”, “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari”, “Metropolis”, “M”, “People on Sunday”, “Berlin. Symphony of a Metropolis” and “Blue Angel” unfold their unique aura.

Von Caligari zu Hitler 1
Cinema showed German society after World War One in a permanent dance on a volcano, between hedonist lust and latent fear of destruction – an explosive mixture.

Kracauer Masseninszenierung

Siegfried Kracauer described this epoch in “Von Caligari zu Hitler”, the best-known of German film books to date. It tells of shellschock-trauma, fear, crisis and the longings for a leader in German film – in other words: the way in which cinema presaged the era of fashism, anticipated its terror and the moral and political collapse of a liberal society.

What does cinema know that we don’t?

Investigating this question, and tracing the diversity ands beauty of early filmmaking, the film shows: Weimar cinema is more than ever an unknown continent still to be discovered. Far more than Expressionism, it was New Sobriety, escapist spectacle, thrill and fun – and it looked into the eye of crisis.

FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER is an entertaining rollercoaster-trip to the best period of German cinema and into the abyss of German subconscioussness.

Siegfried Kracauer