Quick on-the-move travel post here. The Berlin Museum of Film & Television is a worthy stop in Germany. The opening room of Weimar and Expressionist film hits all the big ones – Caligari, M, Metropolis, and The Last Laugh were featured – but it’s the presentation and smaller materials that put it over the top.
Original storyboards (the Metropolis artwork is incredible! And the original machine/robot is there! And behind-the-scenes photos of the elaborate set are eye-opening!), correspondences, miniature sets, and film clips are on display, and the curators use mirrors to a dizzying advantage. It was really mind-blowing to see some of the Caligari concept designs and I want to own every single poster in there.
There’s an entire section dedicated to Marlene Dietrich. Her audition shoots (including a blow-up at her piano player) and letters with Von Sternerg (whom she idolized) and Lang (whom she despised) are fascinating. There’s her bracelet from Hemingway and photos of she, Gabin, and Remarque out on the town.
Lubitsch and Wilder get their bits, and though small, they’re rather detailed: some Wilder production notes, Double Indemnity set photos, and his ‘What Would Lubitsch Do’ office poster (someone needs to make WWLD bracelets), and Lubitsch’s notes and early photos.
I wish there had been a bit more on Fassbinder, my favorite, but nonetheless, the few set photos and an old handwritten budget were awesome. Other New German Cinema-types – Wenders, Schlondorff, Kluge – are also there though underrepresented. Herzog’s got the most, particularly on Fitzcarraldo.
The WWII room was beautifully designed. Riefenstahl’s Olympia tool center-stage with a to-scale replica of the stadium, complete with indicators for camera positions, and a sobering look at those entertainers who died during the war was represented through mortuary-style drawers containing information.
Billy Wilder’s restaurant(!):
The first room of the museum. Mirrors and screens!