We owe so much to the Germans in terms of films. So many techniques used over there, the lighting, the shadows, the dark ambiance, we owe to them, in large part because many of their filmmakers fled Germany circa 1933.
I found this a little heavy going but quite good. Through film clips and interviews, the documentary tells us about German cinema at a time during the free Weimar period, the golden era of which was 1924-1929. This was a time of stable economy, culture renaissance, and new ideas. Women were more Americanized, the cabarets and musicals were popular.
The documentary begins after World War I where there was great upheaval. Siefried Kracauer wrote 'From Caligari to Hitler' in 1947, on which this documentary is based.
We see all the great Weimar directors: the versatile Fritz Lang, G.W. Pabst, F. W. Murnau, Ernst Lubitsch, the Siodmak brothers, and writers, Billy Wilder being one. And we see their stars: Dietrich, Emil Jannings, Louise Brooks, Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch (Harvey and Frisch were known as the "dream couple" in film), and even Leni Riefenstahl, who appeared in what are known as "mountain movies." And there are clips from the classics: "Metropolis" (1927), "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920), "M" (1931), "Nosferatu" (1922), "People on Sunday" (1930), and "Berlin, Symphony of a Metropolis" (1927).
Kracauer's thesis, gone into here, was that the films predict the rise of the National Socialist Party as well as the stock market crash (in several films, before 1929, the stock market crashes). is that the budding film industry predicted the coming of the National Socialist Party. Many films had megalomaniacs or evil men, and mob order.
It is a fascinating thesis and probably true. I think it might not be just German films.
"Why We Fight" in 1933, predicted WW II and during a demonstration, one sees a swastika and a Japanese sun.
Also, if one remembers, when The China Syndrome came out, nuclear power executives lambasted the picture as being "sheer fiction" and a "character assassination of an entire industry". Then twelve days after the movie's release, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred.
'Arlington Road' from 1999 focuses on the idea of how much we actually know about our neighbors. The central theme is the threat of homegrown terror, but it's built around the notion of what we view as plausible vs. implausible. In a pre-9/11 world, the film serves almost as a cautionary tale. It was dismissed as preposterous.
And don't forget, the Simpsons did an episode about "President Trump" in 2000.
Those are films dealing with specific instances, but I'm sure if one goes back and studies films from the past, there are themes that became relevant later.
If it's in the air, it's in the air. Fascinating nonetheless.
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