Silver Screens and Hollywood Idols

I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one who would have to stop and think for a minute and then consult that well-known search engine with too many os and gs if someone asked me to name a German film. Shameful, I know, so off I went to the Museum fur Film und Fernsehen (that’s the Museum for Film and Television for language fans) to fill this gap in my knowledge.

So without further ado, on with the adventure!

The first  gallery is a dizzying display of mirrors reflecting reflections into their infinite depths, which gives way to a display on the equally dizzying film The Cabinet of Dr CaligariSo now not only can I deal with cases of museum-induced vertigo, but I can name 1 German film! So far, so good. I wonder how many more I can name by the end of this post?

After becoming acquainted with the good doctor, the wider world of German cinema opens itself up.

More importantly, I discover that I already knew the name of another German movie: Metropolis (That’s 2 for those keeping count). The famous robot Maria, the Maschinenmensch – that’s “Machine-human” language fans – who is surprisingly diminutive in the not-quite flesh, stands in a darkened corner.

The Robot from Fritz Lang's Metropolis
The Robot from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

The lights slowly reveal Maria in all her golden glory, her gold metallic stare glowers. She certainly is a scener-stealer(a scene-steel-er perhaps?)

Although she’s impressive, Maria isn’t the main star of the show.

No, the real star is the one, the only Marlene Dietrich. We’re introduced to her initially in her guise as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel (that’s 3 films), but soon it seems the whole museum dedicates itself to the star. There were so many costumes for a moment my mind wandered and I thought I was back at the V&A.

Marlene Dietrich's Star on the German walk of fame
Marlene Dietrich’s Star on the German walk of fame


To be honest, there’s more than enough stuff to stock a decent size museum dedicated to her. Although the director Leni Reiefenstahl is briefly explored when looking at cinema during World War II, it’s Dietrich again who steals the show.

Maybe the museum focuses more on Dietrich in this section because she isn’t as problematic as the talented director who produced propaganda material for the Nazis. Dietrich spoke quite plainly on the matter: “I like Germans,” she told the media, “I don’t like Nazis.” Simple as that.

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