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The Ufa Story: A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company, 1918-1945 (Weimar & Now: German Cultural Criticism) [Paperback]

Klaus Kreimeier
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 1999 Weimar & Now: German Cultural Criticism
Universum-Film AG - best known by its signature logo, Ufa - was once the largest film company in Europe. Founded by the German High Command as a propaganda medium during World War I and always central to Germany's nationalistic big-business interests, Ufa was also home to the most innovative talents of the Weimar Republic. Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings, and Ernst Lubitsch were Ufa stars; "Metropolis", "The Blue Angel", and "Dr. Mabuse" were only a few of its finest works. From its dazzling theatres, to its state-of-the-art studios and processing labs, from its comprehensive multimedia publicity campaigns to its avant-garde art films, Ufa challenged Hollywood for cultural dominance and market share in Jazz Age Europe. But the story grows darker after the simultaneous advent of sound films and National Socialism. The story of Ufa under Hitler, when technically superb films continued to be made, is the story of the corruption and destruction of this company by the state that brought it into existence.

Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (4 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520220692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520220690
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,078,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Kreimeier connects the Ufa of the 1920s and its grandiose movie palaces, floodlit premieres, and impressive stage sets with the political, social, and artistic crises of the Weimar years."--J.S. Marcus, "New York Review of Books

About the Author

Klaus Kreimeier was cultural editor for "Der Spiegel" and has taught at the German Film and Television Academy. A freelance journalist, he lives in Berlin.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
UFA was the only European film company to rival Hollywood in its sophistication before the Second World War. Want to know where Billy Wilder earned his scriptwriting stripes? Where Peter Lorre and Anton Walbrook and Conrad Veidt were stars long before they ever acted in English? Where Douglas Sirk became a top director and Marlene Dietrich a world star? The history of UFA is fascinating for the back-story it gives to world cinema, and particularly Hollywood cinema, but it's also fascinating in its own right. For any Amazon.co.uk customers who understand German, I'd recommend this book as a prompt to order some of the classics of German cinema on video from Amazon.de. German cinema didn't slide into Nazi barbarism and prudery overnight in 1933, but the light gradually died: contrast the bubbly fun of Viktor und Viktoria (the original of the Julie Andrews musical) from 1933 or the international sophistication of Douglas Sirk's late 1930s movies with Zarah Leander to the kitsch and sentimentality of the wartime German cinema, finally cut off from the influence of Hollywood with which it had had such a long and fertile two-way relationship. In classic film studies form the book is sometimes guilty of over-analysis, as when it compares the snappy discipline of German girl chorus lines to Nazi stormtroopers - I mean, didn't the author ever see a Busby Berkeley production number? Those girls were WAY more drilled - but ultimately this is a reliable and comprehensive look at an industry which was used by Nazi Germany to hide its evil behind a pretty, and often entertaining, face. Readers who know German might want to go on to read Felix Moeller's book Der Filmminister, to understand more about Goebbels' role in pulling the strings behind the scenes. Oh, and for anyone who sees the stills in the book for the 1939 Marika Roekk movie 'Hallo Janine' and thinks: that looks weird and fascinating, you're right - it's no more or less than a Broadway melody auf Deutsch.
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By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
It is too bad that this is one of the only surviving books on UFA. Luckily it is one of the best. This book tells of the trials and tribulations of the film industry in Germany and the world between 1918 and 1945. It is packed with how they did it technically and economically. There are two concentrated picture sections. The pictures are of the sets, people involved in the industry, actors and movies. The author seems to think that the UFA was corrupted during the time of National Socialism.
According to this book, after H.G. Wells watched "Metropolis", he thought there wasn't much worth corrupting. Sot of gives you a different prospective of H.G. Wells; doesn't it?
Any Way there is tow parts, 30 chapters, Trailer, Epilog, and Fadeout.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wasted Opportunity 17 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read somewhere that there is not a culture of popular written history in Germany, rather it is written as an academic subject. This book is a prime example. I have picked this book up several times to try and advance a few pages, but once I reached page 85 and read this:

'What can be said with certainty is that this "gothic" film style does not offer the possibility of salvation but seems confining, claustrophobic, psychically undigested, anxiety-producing. It expresses a rebellion of provinces and small cities against industrial culture and its superficial rationality'

I'm afraid I laughed and gave up. If you want to cloak your opinions in a florid academic pastiche of knowledge fine, but don't expect me to read it.

Some of the book, turgid as the writing is has moments of lucidity, but it is soon awash again in knee deep lists of actors, film shareholders and the academic opinion of third parties it endlessly breaks up the flow of the text and any sense of linear history that the author might be trying to achieve.

I was tempted first of all to blame the translation, which appears to be literal rather than interprative. But the further I read I realised that anything other than what was done would have required a complete re-write of the text. This book badly needs an english language editor.

I do not normally write negative reviews. A bad book is just let go. However, this was such a disappointment given the subject matter and my interest in German history that I have vented my annoyance. I am currently reading Sebastian Haeffner's 'Defying Hitler'. The prose is beautiful and an object lesson in writing and translation.

I was tempted for two stars simply because of the plates. Any book with picture of the lovely Lilian Harvey should be worth that at least. But I'm afraid not.

A major disappointment.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The German Contribution 5 Feb 2011
By kevymack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book which details the always fascinating story of UFA , the greatest film company IN Germany and all of Europe which for qite some time gave Hollywood a run for its' money as the film capital of the world. It also shows how many of the great directors, writers , film technicians etc. fled Germany for the freedom of Hollywood and the tremendous contribution they made to American cinema.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To really appreciate good films, know where they come from 19 Mar 2013
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is too bad that this is one of the only surviving books on UFA. Luckily it is one of the best. This book tells of the trials and tribulations of the film industry in Germany and the world between 1918 and 1945. It is packed with how they did it technically and economically. There are two concentrated picture sections. The pictures are of the sets, people involved in the industry, actors and movies. The author seems to think that the UFA was corrupted during the time of National Socialism.

According to this book, after H.G. Wells watched "Metropolis", he thought there wasn't much worth corrupting. Sot of gives you a different prospective of H.G. Wells; doesn't it?

Any Way there is tow parts, 30 chapters, Trailer, Epilog, and Fadeout.

From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton Classic Editions)
5.0 out of 5 stars To really appreciate good films, know where they come from 2 Jun 2000
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is too bad that this is one of the only surviving books on UFA. Luckily it is one of the best. This book tells of the trials and tribulations of the film industry in Germany and the world between 1918 and 1945. It is packed with how they did it technically and economically. There are two concentrated picture sections. The pictures are of the sets, people involved in the industry, actors and movies. The author seems to think that the UFA was corrupted during the time of National Socialism.

According to this book, after H.G. Wells watched "Metropolis", he thought there wasn't much worth corrupting. Sot of gives you a different prospective of H.G. Wells; doesn't it?

Any Way there is tow parts, 30 chapters, Trailer, Epilog, and Fadeout.

From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton Classic Editions)
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