ScreenSnap Goes Global: Deutsche Kinemathek Museum, Berlin

So now for something a little different. I recently took a lovely little city break to Berlin, during which amongst the visits to the Berlin Wall, WW2 memorial sites and various currywurst bars, I managed to get to the German Cinema Museum (or Deutsche Kinemathek Museum, to be precise). Located in Berlin’s modern Sony Centre, the museum is primarily a tribute to the pioneering German cinema of the 1920s during the Weimar Republic, a time in which Berlin was considered to be one of the world’s best metropolitan cities.

Pioneering use of light and dark in The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari
Pioneering use of light and dark in The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari

Firstly, I should note that unfortunately the museum doesn’t allow photography, hence that lack of photos. However the museum’s website gives quite a good picture of what it’s like, which you can see here.

German cinema was at the global centre of film-making during the 1920s, with iconic films such as The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927) all coming from that period. The museum has an excellent exhibition focusing solely on Metropolis, which showcases its pioneering set design and how it kicked off the sci-fi genre. Other permanent exhibitions include the development of film technology in the early 20th century, German film stars in Hollywood (with special focus on Marlene Dietrich), and the use of propaganda film during the Nazi period.

Nazi propaganda film Olympia, a staged documentary about the 1936 Olympics
Nazi propaganda film Olympia, a staged documentary about the 1936 Olympics

The museum itself is easy to navigate and is informative without too much reading to do. It shows off loads of authentic exhibits, such as costumes, film cameras and original scripts. A lot of the German films that the museums looks at are quite weird and sinister, which is exactly the sort of thing that I like- however if you’re more of a rom-com or family comedy fan it might not be for you. Having (shamefully) not known much about the significance of early German cinema before going, I came away having learnt a ton and have now ordered a selection of black and white classics to expand my repertoire (watch this space for upcoming reviews). As an added bonus entry was €7, which is cheaper than a lot of other museums in Berlin.

Overall, it’s definitely worth a visit for any film aficionado, and even for those who aren’t such hardcore movie fans it makes a nice change from the other kinds of museum in the city.

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