Monday, 2 August 2010

Deutsche Kinemathek/Museum für Film und Fernsehen

During my recent visit to Berlin, I visited the German Film and Television Museum, more impressively named in German: "Deutsche Kinemathek/Museum für Film und Fernsehen"
Transported to the third floor by the speedy lift, I was initially introduced to the history of Television (fernsehen). I walked into a room featuring famous early TV broadcasts including the first man on the moon, Queen Elizabeth's coronation and of course Boris Becker becoming Wimbledon champion. I moved into the next room (but not before analysing whether the reason people thought My boyfriend and I were German was because of Graham's uncanny resemblance to Herr. Becker)
The next room was by far the highlight of my Television experience, essentially this room was a crash course in television history from its birth to the present day. Nine screens make up the back wall, whilst mirrors encase the left and the right, and the audience perch on seats. An impressive video montage plays but this isn't your average history lesson. The combination of small screen, two screens, half screen, full screen, mixed with contrasting audio and overlapping narratives, sound collages and impeccable timing (all heightened by the all encompassing mirror walls) lends itself to a saturated visio-audial experience, leaving the audience excited and anticipant for what is to come. Once leaving the video room, there is an opportunity for a blast from the past, as visitors can browse through television programmes new and old. (my choice was 'Pingu' - the one where Pinga is born)
After television it's down to the second floor to Film, again introduced by an impressive installation, a clever use of mirrors and a bombardment of Hollywood icons, film noir, and juxtaposition of genres, is quite overpowering and emphasises the impact of 'the big screen.'
The museum takes you through a journey from the very first film camera, pioneers in German/ world cinema including the lumiere brothers and the first stars of german cinema; Henry Porten, Fern Andra and Asta Nielsen.
I was particularly interested in the section based around 'The Weimar Republic' (1918-33). Prominent directors during this time included: Ernst Lubitsch, FW. Murnau, Fritz Lang, GW. Pabst. A plaque reads "Everyday life and myths, triviality and trashiness, technology and horror- explosive elements that take shape in the Weimar republic- glaring too are the warning signs that herald the coming dictatorship."
Film was to become an important tool of propaganda during the years leading upto and including the second world war.
In contrast, the next room pays homage to Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), who rose to fame in both Berlin and Hollywood. Her appearance in men's clothing, deftly overstepped the limits of traditional gender roles and she is admired here as the icon of the century. As part of the homage as fascinating cabinet contains many of Marlene's belongings; a vanity case, blemish cream, porcelain white make-up and one thing in particular which caught my eye was a napkin, which Marlene had written on (in English)
"He was my master
My trainer
He had me on a leash
It was he who let the Leash go- Not I
I was lying there, staying there, waiting for another master"
This was written in relation to director Joseph Von Sternberg, whom Marlene collaborated with for many years.
After Marlene has been done justice, there museum moves onto important films throughout history, including both German and American influence. One of these films being `Metropolis' for which films posters, set sketches and plot outlines can be seen. The museum also hosts a hall of fame for influential directors throughout German history including; Werner Herzog (The Enigma of Caspar Hauser), Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot), Fritz Lang(Metropolis) and Robert Wiene's Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari" with the message 'you must become Caligari'.
Fritz Lang
Poster for Metropolis.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the museum, and felt it gave a me a richer understanding of the importance of film, specifically in Berlin. The museum also raised my awareness of the political impact of films, and how the film industry, like many art forms, was brutally affected by Hitler's regime. The film industries ability to re-build itself is a testament to the power of film, I look forward to using this visit in my summer project about 'arthouse' films, and of course raided the museum gift shop for some beautiful black and white postcards...
"As an Art form, a film must become a living print" ("Das Filmbild Muss Graphik werden") - Robert Wiene.
Gary Cooper, 1934 by Clarence Sinclair Bull.
Marlon Brando and Mary Murphy -The Wild One
Clint Eastwood, "Play Misty for Me"

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