×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Retro filled with risk

Berlin Film Festival Preview 2013

This year’s Berlinale Retrospective, the Weimar Touch: The International Influence of Weimar Cinema After 1933 puts a neat spin on things by first looking back and then forward some 20 years, focusing on the films of German-speaking emigrants up into the 1950s.

Post-WWI Weimar Republic Germany (1918-33) was a boom time for creative energy, with the period’s movies exploring popular narrative forms and experimenting stylistically, before all coming to a screeching halt with the Nazi takeover in 1933 that caused more than 2,000 film industry creatives and workers — many Jewish — to emigrate.

Organized in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinemathek film and TV museum and its topper Rainer Rother, Retrospective 2013 presents 33 films in five sections: Rhythm and Laughter (musicals and comedies), Unheimlich — The Dark Side (“Intensely scary crime films concentrating on the dark side of the human psyche and society,” according to Rother), Light and Shadow, Variations and Know Your Enemy (films taking a stand against the Nazi regime).

Rediscoveries include the socially critical comedy “Peter” (Austria/Hungary, 1934) and newly restored Dutch film “Komedie om geld” (1936) by Max Ophuels. The cameraman on the latter, Eugen Schuefftan, later won an Oscar for “The Hustler.”

Other famous film emigres include Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmark and Billy Wilder. No Retrospective is complete without Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” (1959), which brings the subversive humor of Weimar cinema into to America.

Films in the Unheimlich section contributed to shaping of film noir in post-WWII Hollywood — many of the helmers of those classics were German emigres, like Siodmark, who made “Traps” (Pieges, 1939) while exiled in Paris.

The Variations section features remakes of classic Weimar films and films modeled on those of the period, such as Joseph Losey’s 1951 adaptation of Fritz Lang’s 1931 work of the same name, “M,” and Victor Saville’s “First a Girl” (U.K., 1935), based on Reinhold Schuenzel’s “Viktor and Viktoria” (Germany, 1933).

Light and Shadow is less about Expressionism, more about a type of light. F.W. Murnau expressed this language of shadows throughout his work, his lighting famous for allowing gradation that avoids stark contrasts. The Weimar tradition is evident here in his 1927 U.S. silent film “Sunrise — A Song of Two Humans.”

Know Your Enemy includes Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 classic “To Be or Not to Be” and Ludwig Berger’s almost-unknown Dutch 1940 film “Somewhere in the Netherlands,” a melodrama focusing on the threat of a German invasion that actually came to pass in May that year. Michael Curtiz’s immortal “Casablanca” (1942) — with a predominantly European cast — is another highlight.

What won’t be lost on today’s audiences is the irony, says Rother, “that because of their accents, Jewish and other expatriated German actors were confined to very specific roles in those films, mostly as Nazis or German officers.”

Berlin Film Festival Preview 2013
Indie films’ balancing act at Berlin | Overseas wants to see stars | Asian cuisine boosts Berlin restaurant scene | Retro filled with risk

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • DOLEMITE IS MY NAME!, 2019, DOL_Unit_06284.RAF

    'Dolemite Is My Name' Writer Larry Karaszewski Recalls 10-Year Journey to Make Rudy Ray Moore Biopic

    “Harriet” writer-director Kasi Lemmons was in a reflective mood at Tuesday night’s “Behind the Scene” event at the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America West. The biopic, starring Cynthia Erivo as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been receiving buzz since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s Lemmons’ [...]

  • Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

    Holocaust Experts Debate 'Jojo Rabbit' at Museum of Tolerance Screening

    With its comedic, cartoonish portrayal of Nazis, Taika Waititi’s satirical Hitler youth tale “Jojo Rabbit” has polarized critics and audiences alike. And that division continued to be stirred at Tuesday night’s screening of the film at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where Liebe Geft, director of the museum, moderated a heated panel discussion [...]

  • Laura Dern MoMA

    Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver Honor Laura Dern at MoMA Film Benefit

    Laura Dern is certainly no stranger to film sets. “Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd birthed me and bred me on cinema,” she said on Tuesday night in New York City, as she accepted honors at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Film Benefit, presented by Chanel. “I was conceived on a Roger Corman movie called [...]

  • Jon Huerta

    'This Is Us' Star Jon Huertas Builds Community With Venice's Clutch Restaurant

    “This Is Us” star Jon Huertas, who’s being honored at the Napa Valley Film Festival with Variety Vivant’s Spice Award Nov. 13, has always known he wanted a career in Hollywood. But he’s something of an accidental restaurateur. No, he didn’t exactly stumble into co-owning Clutch, one of the hottest upscale casual restaurants in Venice, [...]

  • John Legend LVE Wine

    Celebrities Take Hands-On Approach to Making Fine Wines

    Care to sip champagne backed by Jay Z or 50 Cent? Or mellow out with a fine Chianti from Sting and Trudie Styler? Behind every wine label is an incredibly expensive team effort of surprising proportions. Wine lovers may consider making their own as the ultimate dream; however, few can afford the buy-in. Vineyards are [...]

  • St. Clair Brown, Mad Fritz lead

    Craft Beer Thrives in the Heart of Napa Wine Country

    Napa Valley has long been devoted to the products of the grape, but the region actually played a pivotal role in getting the craft beer revolution off the ground. New Albion Brewing launched the microbrewery trend in adjacent Sonoma County in 1976, inspiring a wave of delicious and potent alternatives to pale industrial beer. There’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content