This book is exactly what the subtitle says. There’s a text introduction, discussing cinematography, photography, and the historical-political-social climate of the time period and location. Then we move on to the movies themselves. Each film has a short description and possibly a quote about it, a list of cast and crew, and beautiful photographs. Some films have more material than others.
I started my year with this book because it was a topic I’ve long been interested in. Growing up, I dismissed older movies as being trite, mostly because the only ones I’d ever seen were of the cheesy family-friendly variety (think: Parent Trap). In college, I took a French classic films class as part of my major. I didn’t get as much out of this class as I would have liked – I was pregnant at the time so my mind was fuzzy – but I discovered the fascinating breadth of early film. I began to watch some classics on my own time, often films tied to the lyrics of my favorite band (who wove literature and film from the late 1800s and early 1900s into all their songs). I’ve never been a huge movie person, but through the last fifteen years, I’ve continued to come back to those classic films. Some of my favorites – Metropolis, M, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – land right in the middle of this particular Weimar era.
Since this is primarily a visual book, there wasn’t a lot of information in it, and thus not a lot to learn. I’m okay with that. This showed me many films that I haven’t seen, many of which I’m now interested in seeing. It will act as a kind of primer for me when I’m seeking out older films to watch. It’s not the book to read if you’re interested in an in-depth look at that time period in German film, but it’s a beautiful introduction to a variety of film styles and stories.