TLW's German Cinemascope™ (German Cinema Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Dec. 3, 2016. Last Update: May 20, 2017.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to German cinema history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
In 1911 Babelsberg Studio is founded in Potsdam-Babelsberg (near Berlin), becoming the oldest large-scale film studio on Earth, and Europe's largest by modern times; its first production is "The Dance of the Dead" (1912); in 1920 it becomes Decla Bioscop; in 1921 it merges with Universum Film AG (UFA); in 1926 it builds Marlene Dietrich Halle for production of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927); in 1929 the Tonkreuz, the first German sound stage is built; in 1933-45 it cranks out 1K feature films, incl. hundreds dir. by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, incl. "Triumph of the Will" (1935) and "The Jew Suss" (1940).
On Mar. 4, 1922 Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) (Prana Film) (Gr. "nosophoros" = plague carrier) debuts, filmed in Bremen, Bavaria, starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, becoming the first film to feature vampires; too bad, they make the mistake of advertising it as "freely adapted from Bram Stoker's Dracula", pissing-off his widow Florence Balcombe Stoker (1858-1937), who tries to get all the prints destroyed, winning her copyright lawsuit in July 1925; luckily some prints survive and the first U.S. screenings take place on June 3, 1929 - so who's under the red light of doom next?
On Jan. 10, 1927 Fritz Lang's Metropolis debuts, attempting to show the technology-driven future, becoming the most expensive silent film to date (7M marks); written by Fritz Lang (1890-1976) and his actress wife Thea Gabriele von Harbou (1888-1954), who ends up joining the Nazi Party in 1932 before/after he is accused of being Jewish, and splits with him, ending up on the losing side in WWII.
On Nov. 9, 1931 Leo Mittler's The Concert (Das Konzert) (Paramount Pictures) debuts, a German comedy film based on Hermann Bahr's 1909 play, starring Olga Tschechowa as Maria Heink, Oskar Karlweis as Dr. Jura, and Ursula Grabley as Delfine.
On Mar. 24, 1932 Leni Riefenstahl's The Blue Light (Das Blaue Licht) (Mar. 24) is the dir. debut of former dancer and Arnold Fanck "alpine film" actress Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl (1902-2003), about an Italian fairy tale, but Adolf Hitler likes it so much that he meets her in May and recruits her for Nazi films, and she goes on to become "Hitler's filmmaker" and "world's most famous female film director" - the Nazi dream can be beautiful for the winning side?
On Dec. 17, 1932 Henry Koster's The Adventure of Thea Roland debuts, becoming the dir. debut of German-born Jew Henry Koster (Hermann Kosterlitz) (1905-88), who after his next film is forced by the Nazis to flee Germany, going on to become a leading dir. in Hollywood.
On Mar. 28, 1935 Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) debuts, an account of the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, which projects a dreamy white vision and stirs millions of Germans to go out and kill and be killed for the Fatherland and der Fuehrer; after making it, Leni is given preferential treatment by Hitler, subject only to his orders, even though she never joins officially the Nazi Party - any special reason other than that he's God?
On Sept. 24, 1940 Veit Harlan's Jud Suss (Süss) (The Jew Suss) debuts, a Nazi anti-Jewish film backed by Joseph Goebbels based on German Jewish banker Joseph Suss Oppenheimer (1698-1738) and filmed in his hometown of Ludwigsburg in Baden-Wurttemberg 8 mi. N of Stuttgart, starring greasy, hooked-nose Austrian actor Ferdinand Marian (Haschkowetz) (1902-46) (forced to act in the movie by Goebbels after he finds out that his stepson is half-Jewish) as money and power-hungry "Court Jew" Suss, and Werner Krauss as a sinister rabbi "Ghetto Jew"; a typical fair and balanced Nazi treatment of their racial enemies, portraying them as creepy dirty mice who like to deflower lily-white Aryan girls and control the world economy; Harlan's blonde-blue Swedish 3rd wife Beata Margareta Kristina Soderbaum (Söderbaum) (1912-2001) ("the Ideal Aryan Woman") also stars, gaining the nickname "Water Corpse of the Reich" for her habit of committing suicide by drowning in this and other flicks; on Sept. 30 Heinrich Himmler orders all SS men and police to view it.
On Sept. 17, 1981 Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (Bavaria Film) (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) (SWR Fensehen) (Neue Constantin Film) debuts, based on the 1973 novel by Lothar-Guenther Buccheim (originally a German TV special), based on the life of U-96 Capt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (1911-86), starring Jurgen Prochnow as the heroic but frustrated and doomed captain of German U-boat U-96 in WWII, told from the perspective of Lt. Werner (Herbert Groenemeyer); the best German-perspective WWII movie ever made?; does $84.9M box office on a $12M (32M DM) budget - not a Jew in sight, so they don't have to show their nasty anti-Semitic side?
On Jan. 9, 2007 Dani Levy's My Fuehrer: The Really Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler (Mein Führer – Die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit über Adolf Hitler) (X Filme) is the first German movie to satirize Hitler, by a Swiss-born Jewish dir. who lives in Berlin and thinks he has a free pass?; Adolf Hitler (Helge Schneider) is too depressed to give his New Year's 1945 speech, so he calls in a Jewish acting coach.
On Dec. 25, 2008 Bryan Singer's Valkyrie (Studio Babelsberg) (United Artists) (Bad Hat Harry Productions) (Cruise/Wagner Productions)(MGM) (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, starring lookalike profile Tom Cruise as German Col. Claus von Stauffenburg, who unsuccessfully attempts to assassinate Herr Hitler on July 20, 1944 but at least gets close enough to make it exciting; features Kenneth Branagh as Maj. Gen. Henning von Tresckow, Bill Nighy as Gen. Friedrich Olbricht, Terence Stamp as Col. Gen. Ludwig Beck, Tom Wilkinson as Col. Gen. Friedrich Fromm, Carice van Houton as Stauffenberg's wife Nina, Matthias Freihof as Heinrich Himmler, Harvey Friedman as Joseph Goebbels, and David Bamber as Adolf Hitler; does $200M box office on a $75M budget.