Ever since in 1895 the Skladanowsky Brothers showed the first moving picture to a paying audience here, Berlin has had a central place in German cinema – both as a site of production, and as an object in film.
This course will explore the history of film in and about Berlin from its beginnings and its first peak in the Weimar Republic, through a discussion of fascist film politics to an overview over the developments in East and West Berlin to contemporary representations of the unified and multicultural city. We will explore the highly divergent uses that film directors have made of the city – through the selection of locations, the aesthetics of their visual dramatization by the camera and the editing, as well as through their emplotment – and the different interpretations of the city that the films perform. We will detect what kinds of problems – social, ethnic and political tensions of the city – the films identify (and how they do this), as well as analyze celebrations of the “old” and the “new” Berlin.
Finally, we will get an insight into the importance of the film industry for the city of Berlin. Several excursions will bring us in direct contact with the city and its film history (possible options are: the film museums in Berlin and Potsdam, the film studio in Babelsberg, a walking tour to film locations).