Cinema of Germany

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Cinema in Germany can be traced back to the very beginnings of the medium at the end of the 19th century. German cinema has made major technical and artistic contributions to film.


Before 1918 - Cinema pioneers

The history of cinema in Germany can be traced back to the year of the medium's birth. On November 1, 1895 Max Skladanowsky and his brother Emil demonstrated their self-invented film projector the Bioskop at the Wintergarten music hall in Berlin. This performance pre-dated the first paying public display of the Lumière brothers' Cinematographe in Paris on December 28 of the same year, a performance that Max Skladanowsky attended and at which he was able to ascertain that the Cinematographe was technically superior to his Bioskop. Other German film pioneers included the Berliners Oskar Messter and Max Gliewe, two of several individuals who independently in 1896 first used a Geneva drive (which allows the film to be advanced intermittently one frame at a time) in a projector, and the cinematographer Guido Seeber.

In its earliest days, the cinematograph was perceived as an attraction for upper class audiences, but the novelty of moving pictures did not last long. Soon, trivial short films were being shown as fairground attractions aimed at the working and lower-middle class. The booths in which these films were shown were known in Germany somewhat disparagingly as Kintopps. Film-makers with an artistic bent attempted to counter this view of cinema with longer movies based on literary models, and the first German "artistic" films began to be produced from around 1910, an example being the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Student of Prague (1913) which was co-directed by Paul Wegener and Stellan Rye, photographed by Guido Seeber and starring actors from Max Reinhardt's company.

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