The inventory of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation
unites the most important elements of German film history,
including the great classic silent movies of the 1920s.
During the Weimar Republic, German motion pictures enjoyed international fame.
This was preceded by an enthusiasm for experiments by numerous inventors, showmen,
engineers and visionaries, who paved the way from the first public film screening
in 1895 through to the artistic masterpieces of the nineteen-twenties.
Hence, the first 15 years of film history are ultimately also the history of
cinema. The picture palaces advertised their interior decoration, comfortable
seats, proper ventilation and also the information that only the latest
films were being screened. But the fact that an increasing number of well-known
stage actors as well as renowned authors worked for the cinema, made a decisive
contribution to the acceptance of the film in society.
But, above all, a genre came into being that was unknown until about 1912:
the feature film lasting a whole evening. Feature films of this kind gradually
took the place of the one-act programmes, which until then the cinematograph owners
had combined according to their own tastes.
After 1910, cinemas attracted their public for the first time with concrete
film titles and very soon also with the names of actresses and actors. Henny Porten
and the Danish actress Asta Nielsen were the first stars of the German silver
Above all, the directors of sophisticated films took great care with the choice
of suitable subjects and the kind of acting suited to the screen. Moreover, they
were already making use of editing, complex camera work and imaginative sets and
costumes. These devices were then utilised in the 1920s with increasing virtuosity.