Weimar Cinema

Monochrome visions from a trailblazing era of German filmmaking.

Rose Butler

13 Jan 23

The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari

From 5 Feb — Book Now

Robert Wiene's tale of an insane hypnotist who manipulates a young somnambulist to commit murders is the quintessential work of Weimar expressionist cinema.

Featuring a striking visual style with painted backgrounds, twisted and unusual angles and bold use of light and shadow, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is largely considered one of the most significant horror films ever made; highlighting themes of brutal authority and the duality of human nature, critic Roger Ebert called it "the first true horror film".

A pivotal film in the development of the horror genre internationally, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was a prominent influence for Universal Studios own monster films of the 1930s, before shaping the visual style of the American film noir of the 1940s.

The Blue Angel

From 12 Feb — Book Now

The Blue Angel is the first feature-length "full-talkie" of German cinema. Directed by the renowned director Josef von Sternberg, the film brought its star, Marlene Dietrich, international fame.

Considered a classic of Weimar cinema, The Blue Angel tells the story of a respectable professor and his tragic transformation to a cabaret clown and gradual fall into madness.

Bold and thematically rich, the film critiques the corrupt values of the German middle classes and is a fascinating depiction of the downfall of the bourgeoisie.


From 19 Feb — Book Now

Met with a mixed reaction at the time of its release in 1927, Fritz Lang's futuristic, urban dystopia Metropolis is now considered one of the most influential science fiction films ever made.

The film's screenplay was penned by Thea von Harbou from her own 1925 novel of the same name, and explores themes of industrialisation, modernism and fascism.

The film features a range of elaborate set designs and special effects, most notably the Schüfftan Process, pioneered by effects expert Eugen Schüfftan in which mirrors create the illusion that actors are occupying miniature sets. Alfred Hitchcock would use this technique just two years later in his film Blackmail (1929).


From 26 Feb — Book Now

Fritz Lang's M features Peter Lorre in his remarkable breakthrough role as Hans Beckert, a serial killer of children.

Considered by Lang to be his best work, the film was co-written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first venture into sound film.

M illustrated many technical innovations, from its use of long, tracking shots and one of the first instances in film to use a leitmotif.

At the time of its release, M was a commentary on the Weimar era's obsession with crime, morality and social breakdown; the film is now considered one of the greatest crime films of all time, establishing several conventions of the crime and thriller film still being used today.

Madchen In Uniform

From 5 Mar — Book Now

Leontine Sagan's Madchen in Uniform (1931) would become one of the most controversial romantic films of the Weimar era.

Based on the play Yesterday and Today by Christa Winsloe, the film remains a cult classic today. At the time of its release it was a modest success, but somewhat eclipsed by the ongoing huge success of The Blue Angel.

Its depictions of lesbian relationships and subversive narrative criticising authority and discipline led to it being banned by the Nazi regime, and the film was only allowed to be shown abroad. Thankfully, prints of the film survived the war, though heavily censored until the 1970s and not shown again in Germany until 1978 when it showed on TV.

Rose Butler is a film programmer for Picturehouse Cinemas and a freelance writer based in London.

Join us at West Norwood Picturehouse for a session exploring, investigating, and examining Weimar cinema following our recent season of classic German film.

Tickets are £10, and £8 for Picturehouse Members — Find out more