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Silent film classics from the twenties

The wild twenties, an exciting time of social upheaval, technical innovations and breathtaking inventions also produced artful silent film classics. The autumn/winter programme of the UNESCO World Heritage Bauhaus Visitor Centre offers a selection of cinematic treasures from October to December, which are shown every Friday in the cinema hall. After all, the Bauhaus is also a child of the 1920s.

Veranstaltungen in Berlin: Auftakt zum Kino im Besucherzentrum Bernau
Stefan Söll

The selected films present the burning issues of the time: advancing industrialisation, growing cities, changed work processes accompanied by the alienation and disorientation of people. At the same time, utopias and dystopias, the real and the surreal, horror and comedy, emerge as a way of expressing omnipresent insecurity. In the process, astonishing parallels to our modern world become apparent.

In "Modern Times", for example, the probably best-known American silent film star Charlie Chaplin no longer finds his footing in the gears of oversized cogs, while still trying spasmodically and faithfully to fulfil his task as a screwdriver. A sharp satire on the modern, inhuman working world.

A slight shudder is offered by Wilhelm Murnau's "Nosferatu - a Symphony of Horror". It is regarded as a first-class example of so-called cinematic expressionism and the forerunner of the horror film genre. His model was followed by other international film adaptations of the Dracula theme.

Werner Ruttmann's 1927 film "Berlin - Sinfonie der Großstadt" (Berlin - Symphony of the Big City) deals with the problems of life in the big city: a picture reportage of 24 hours of everyday life in Berlin at the time.

Fritz Lang created a daring vision of the future with his feature-length film Metropolis, which, with its special effects and refinements in technology and equipment, can already be described as the first science fiction film. After the fall of the Empire and the failure of the revolution, the dystopia of a world dominated by modern technology emerges, in which man is degraded to the victim of his own inventions.

The cinema programme concludes with the four-part documentary series "How do we live healthily and economically?" from the years 1926 - 28. The four of the original nine cultural films, with the participation of Walter Gropius and Bruno Taut among others, explain the principles and materials of New Building. For example, they provide rare insights into the construction methods of the Bauhaus master houses in Dessau, where Ise Gropius and her friends explain how the modern kitchen works.
Additional information
Besucherzentrum Welterbe Bauhaus