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Film Studies: National Cinemas

This guide highlights selected resources for various national cinemas.

Introductions to Austrian and German cinemas

Austrian cinema

Moving images were first seen in Austria at an exhibition of the Lumière Cinématographe in Vienna on 27 March 1896, but local fiction film production is thought to have begun only in 1908 with Heinz Hanus’s Von Stufe zu Stufe. At around a thousand films in total, film output during the silent era was small compared with that of other countries in Europe; but a substantial proportion of these, some 120 productions annually, were made during the peak years of 1918 to 1922. Although the local cinema culture was dominated from early on by the output of studios in neighbouring Germany, a number of firms did successfully establish production bases in Austria during the silent era, most prominent among them being Sascha-Film, established in Vienna in 1914. During the 1920s and 1930s directors Willi Forst (Maskerade/Masquerade in Vienna, 1934), Sándor (Alexander) Korda (Samson und Delila/Samson and Delilah, 1922), and Mihély Kertész (Michael Curtiz) (Das sechste Gebot/The Sixth Commandment, 1923) made films in Austria. Korda later migrated to Britain; and Kertész, along with fellow Austro-Hungarians Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinneman, and Edgar G. Ulmer, to Hollywood (see hungary, film in). Forst’s Maskerade is a significant example of the operetta film, an influential middle-European variant of the film musical.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Austria, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 Aug. 2022

German cinema

Moving images were seen in Germany for the first time at an exhibition of Max and Emil Skladanowsky’s invention at the Berlin Wintergarten on 1 November 1895. Domestic film production was in full swing before World War I, by which time the Autorenfilm (author’s cinema) had already established itself in the form of quality films like Der Student von Prag/The Student of Prague, (Stellan Rye, 1913), as well as a host of popular fiction features. The legendary studio UFA (Universum Film AG) was founded in Babelsberg in 1917 and continued operating in various guises until after World War II. During these early years, and into the 1930s, sociologists in Germany conducted inquiries into cinemagoing and cinema audiences, and writers and intellectuals inquired into the distinctive aesthetics of the new medium (see audience; closeup). After World War I, filmmaking in Germany entered a golden age that coincided loosely with the years of the Weimar Republic (1918–33). The period of Weimar cinema was one of unparalleled creativity and innovation, with the pioneering achievements of German Expressionism; the invention of distinctive genres like the Strassenfilm (for example Die freudlose Gasse/Joyless Alley (G.W. Pabst, 1925)); the experimental films of Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, Oskar Fischinger, Lotte Reiniger, and Walther Ruttmann (see avant-garde film; city symphony); the internationally popular musicals of the early sound period (including such classics as Der Kongress Tanzt/Congress Dances (Erik Charell, 1931) and Viktor und Viktoria/Victor and Victoria (Reinhold Schünzel, 1933)); and the work of prominent directors such as F.W. Murnau, Max Reinhart, Fritz Lang, and Ernst Lubitsch. The Weimar era came to an end with National Socialism’s accession to power in 1933, when Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, took charge of the film industry, which was fully nationalized nine years later (see propaganda). Many German filmmakers were driven into exile in the US or other European countries during this period.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Germany, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 Aug. 2022

Searching the online catalog

You can use the subject heading below to find resources in the online catalog. The call number range is also included.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding scholarly journal articles

Articles and other writings about German and Austrian films can be found in many publications. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find articles or use the search box at the top of the page.

Selected movie titles

Find more German or Austrian titled films in the library's catalog.