Enumerazione delle piante crittogame non descritte nella flora crittogamica dell' Italia settentrionale del chiarissimo Signor Dottor Ciro Pollini Der Erzzauberer Cagliostro. From the French original Vangelo di Cagliostro, il gran Cofto. Traduzione letterale dal testo latino, preceduta da uno studio storico-critico e da una bibliografia di Pericle Maruzzi su la vita del conte Alessandro Cagliostro e sui libri muratori e le fratellanze segrete, specialmente in Italia nel secolo XVIII Webster's new biographical dictionary, Countries and Regions of Publication 13 View the list below for more details.
Using psychological guile and dramatic talent, Kalifalkzherston consequently drew a magic circle with a stick and requested Kvarkov to reenact the scene. To the delight of the on-looking audience, which includes the family doctor and a physician, Samblina makes an instant recovery. For three months already the crucible of Gospodin Samblin has boiled day and night with pure gold on the fire; in seventeen days, that is, at the birth of the new moon, I will remove it from the fireplace in front of witnesses, and then will be found inexhaustible wealth.
In this passage, Catherine hints at the close links between alchemy and astrology. What is more, in act three, scene two, she directly addresses the contemporary wave of esoteric publications in Russia. In essence the message of The Deceiver is exactly the same as that pre- sented at the coronation pageant in Moscow in Whilst the play alludes to Martinism, it is far less a play about Freemasonry than a comedy about the folly of believing in alchemical charlatans.
However, a month after the premiere of The Deceiver , Catherine the Great showcased another comedy— The Deceived —in which Freemasonry assumes a much more pivotal and sinister role. In The Deceived , Catherine uses the character of Britiagin to embody her ideals of virtue, honesty, and rationality.
Barmotin explains to Bragin, a recent initiate, that the vessel is used for concocting gold, precious stones and for remedies to treat all manner of illnesses. Protolk instructs the boy to bang his feet on the ground and then to tell the assembled group what he is able to see. The downfall of the Masonic group headed by Protolk is further assured when Bragin reports about their plans to extract money from rich people in order to establish schools and charitable institutions.
In short, they are presented as a disreputable bunch of scoundrels, who have only succeeded in bringing misery and misfortune to honest Russian aristocratic families in St. Only at one point in the play is alchemy mentioned act three, scene three , when someone asks Bobin whether rumours she has heard about Lai are true: The manuscript notes on the character of the shaman are also enlightening in terms of his esoteric interests.
He dabbles in magic, cabbala and astrology. Moreover, in the general notes on his powers as a healer, it states that he practices his art only through studying the external characteristics of individuals, such as their face, movements, hair, and dec- orations. To reinforce this message, the notes add that he only heals via his own intuition. Thus, whilst Lai is an exotic outsider practicing esoteric doctrines, he is portrayed as distinct from Western alchemical projectors, who use pseudo-scientific craft and guile to execute their deceptions.
Petersburg and in Moscow.
One can cite the collection of tracts by Johann Isaac Holland that was printed in St. The subsequent general ban on Freemasonry enacted by Catherine in temporarily removed another platform by which esoteric doctrines, including alchemy were supported. Petersburg, improved the composition of the metal by the invention of an alloy which bears his name, and introduced a new method of boring cannon.
Kerstens, the first professor of medicine, chemistry and physics at the University of Moscow, illustrates how an enthusiasm for actively seeking alchemical secrets did not necessitate a detachment from progressive scientific inquiry. I would argue that alchemical philosophy and practice allowed for a combination of spiritual and pseudo-scientific elements.
In this sense alchemy promoted the idea of spiritual and material perfectibility. Moreover, it can be argued that the ardent belief in being able to concoct the perfect alchemical receipe contributed much to scientific advancement, and, as in the case of Melissino, produced real benefits for the Russian state. In short, alchemy provided a means for nobleman, such as Melissino, to combine esoteric philosophy, faith, and scientific pursuits expressed most strongly in the space of the Masonic lodge. The charge of open charlatanism, which would be wholeheartedly endorsed by Catherine the Great, is also problematic.
The very public exploits of Cagliostro in St. Petersburg provide the most clear-cut example of opportunism. However, one must remember that the Melissino Circle and Ivan Elagin, for example, carried out their alchemical experiments within an exclusive Masonic sphere restricted to initiated adepts.
Thus, the Masonic brothers were on a level with each other and did not seek personal gain and fame from their shared alchemical endeavours. One is also hard-pushed to discern any elements of social utopiansim in the alchemical worldviews of Petersburg Masons. The likes of Melissino and Elagin, for example, did not pursue the same philanthropic and social goals pursued by Novikov in Moscow.
However, this does not mean that the Petersburg group were insular and cut off from the world around them. Rather, their outlook was more cosmopolitan and elevated above their immediate environment. Thus, whilst aristocratic Russian Mason-alchemists in St. In this regard, one can understand the ferocity of the campaign waged by the empress against alchemy in her capital city and in her realm in general.
Cambridge University Press, Barsukov, Nikolai Platonov, ed. School of Slavonic and East European Studies, Essays in Honour of Anthony G. State University of New York Press, Breuillard, Jean and Irina Ivanova, eds. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Elagina s Velikoi lozhei. Playwright of the Anti-Occult. Volkov i russkii teatr ego vremeni Moscow: Franz Steiner Verlag, The Masonic Circle of N. James Maclehose and Sons, The Clarendon Press, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Oxford University Press, Edited by Heyking, Baron Alfons Berlin: Heywood, Thomas, Hogs caracter of a Projector wherein is disciphered the manner and shape of that Vermine London, Enlightener of Russia Cambridge: Tipografiia Kompanii Tipograficheskoi The University of California Press, The Life of Potemkin London: Max Niemeyer Verlag, Harwood Academic Publishers, Edited by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, Patai, Raphael, The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book Princeton: Princeton University Press, Tipografiia Glavnago Upravleniia Udelov, Puckle, James, The Club: Containing maxims, advice and cautions.
Being a dialogue between a father and son London, Sankt- Peterburgskii nauchnyi tsentr, A Sabbatian Adventurer in the Masonic Underground. Smith, Douglas, Working the Rough Stone: Northern Illinois University Press, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, Tipografiia Grachkva i komp. Otdel nauki i khudozhestva: Dela v Petrograde, Petersburg, , — Petersburg, , 98—; Boris B. The Johns Hopkins University Press, , 97— Longinov, Novikov i moskovskie martinisty Moscow: Tipografiia Gracheva, ; A. Aktsion- ernogo O-va Tip.
Dela v Petrograde, ; In-Ho L. The Clarendon Press, , —; S. Collected Essays by Isabel de Madariaga London: Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Nauki i khudozhestva, — Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Princeton University Press, , North Atlantic Books, , Being a dialogue between a father and son London: John and Thomas King, , Ben Jonson also portrayed projectors as conjurers in The Devil is an Ass , when it was first performed in Admittedly, this ratio concealed anomalies.
The Danish concern, Nordisk, largely filled the void left by the French and Americans and enjoyed a commanding position on the German market. Nordisk not only distributed in Germany but had its own production facilities and owned the largest chain of German theaters. So powerful was its position that it gained exemption from the import ban.
Thus restriction of import provided a precondition but not a guarantee for the ascendancy of domestic producers. More portentous than the removal of foreign film suppliers was the role of the war in impressing upon business and government leaders the untapped potential of film in propaganda for German cultural and industrial interests. The realization finally dawned that motion picture production could not only be profitable in its own right but was also indispensable to the selling of Germany and German products abroad.
UFA , introduced a new era in German film history. DLG owed its establishment to the director of Krupp, Alfred Hugenberg, and other leaders of heavy industry in the Ruhr of which he was the representative. It specialized in the production of short educational and advertising films which were to bolster the image of Germany and German industry. It too originally aimed to counter Allied propaganda but very rapidly took the lead in general movie entertainment.
Its capital base of twenty-five million marks towered over that of every other German firm. In it were united the interests of the government, of shipping, electrical and banking firms brought together by the director of the Deutsche Bank, Emil Georg von Stauss, and of the heretofore predominant Nordisk.
From its inception UFA represented the same type of vertical integration, though on a grander scale, which had characterized the operations of Nordisk. Production, distribution and theater management were combined in one mammoth undertaking. The third pivotal development in the decade before the founding of the Weimar Republic was the initial collision between the motion picture and interests representing literature, the theater, national virtue and public order. The early Autorenfilme and Das Kinobuch symbolized the breakthrough of the cinema as a serious art form.
Authors, playwrights and performers began to recognize in film a new field of creative endeavor. The acceptance of film roles by such theatrical performers as Paul Wegener and Albert Bassermann lent credibility to the young medium. Simultaneously, however, the movies disturbed entrenched interests. More influential was a concerted campaign by the trustees of German Kultur to adapt the motion picture to their social and political purposes.
More generally they sought supervision of the movies through censorship and state ownership. From their efforts emerged a prewar compromise—local censorship and entertainment taxes. Another boom in theater construction between and pushed the number of cinemas up from 2, to 3, Estimates of attendance at middecade vary widely, between slightly fewer than one million and two million persons daily, but even the lower figure implies that on average every German over 18 years of age went to the movies 6.
Domestic film production grew apace. In UFA already controlled roughly one quarter of all the motion pictures distributed in Germany. It employed many leading German performers and directors, among them Henny Porten, Paul Wegener and Ernst Lubitsch, and it operated the largest chain of theaters. The immediate postwar period witnessed the founding of the other major concerns which together led the German film industry in the s: The common aim was concentration of capital and resources, which meant that banks were the prime movers behind these creations.
At the same time, a host of smaller firms sprang up to exploit the seemingly endless demand for motion picture entertainment. In the distribution sector several firms UFA, Emelka, National were clearly dominant and in exhibition the large concerns controlled many of the prestigious cinemas, but lesser companies continued to thrive.
So fundamental was the transformation of the German film industry that by native firms were technically the sole suppliers of the domestic market. Although motion pictures continued to enter Germany from abroad, by any previous standard native producers had a well-sheltered and expanding market at their disposal. Moreover, with the growing and then precipitous decline of the German mark they could dump their output abroad in exchange for hard currency. The promise of fantastic foreign earnings, plus the natural barrier which inflation erected against foreign competition at home, lent this era its distinctive flavor.
Since many of the feature films from the early s have perished, it is difficult to generalize accurately about German production values in this period. But there is no doubt that the hundreds of features produced in the inflationary period exhibited enormous variety. Detective and adventure films of uneven sophistication, romances and humorous subjects likewise flourished. Isolation from American suppliers even prompted German studios to produce ersatz westerns to quench the screen thirst for Karl May. All in all, despite uneven quality—inflation encouraged quick and inexpensive production for export—German output was both variegated and served a socially diverse and expanding clientele.
On the basis of all this evidence the historian can endorse the contemporary perception that the German cinema came of age at the end of the war. Both views are well founded, but neither does full justice to the position of film in Weimar culture. No amount of evidence detailing expansion and popularity can disguise the fact that the Kulturkampf over film which raged before the war did not end in Relations between cinema and various levels of state, cultural and artistic authority or vested interest remained unsettled.
For social, economic and political as well as artistic reasons, Weimar cinema displayed greater pluralism than homogeneity. Since external pressure at the point of contact with entrenched interests and internal strain arising from disagreement about the purpose of the medium created the Sitz im Leben for reception of American movies, both require elaboration. State concern for the motion picture dated from its birth as a public medium, initially because it posed an extreme fire hazard. Very rapidly film began to cause anxiety for moral and social reasons.
The suggestiveness both of film content and of the atmosphere in which it was shown became a point of complaint among middle-class guardians of German virtue. In the last years before the war the film reform movement sought to focus public attention on the dangers of movies, especially for German youth. While local authorities, usually the police, acted as censors, the reformers sought national measures governing censorship and permitting municipal takeover of movie theaters. Legislation embodying these proposals came before the Reichstag but was set aside under the circumstances of national mobilization.
For the duration of hostilities Germany remained under martial law, giving regional military commanders ultimate authority over licensing and censorship. Tightening of control and a ban on imports went hand in hand with growing recognition of the vital propaganda and entertainment role of the cinema, witnessed by the cooperation of government and big business to found UFA. The fall of the imperial regime and end of martial law seemed to portend a new era in the relationship between government and the cinema.
But it very rapidly became apparent that the revolution had not transformed concerns or regulatory mechanisms. The attempt to do away with the Bismarckian state ended, ironically, in a motion picture law whose centralization and consistency fit the authoritarian image of the old regime. Ultimately the movie industry remained in the private sector and was regulated from without by two traditional expedients—taxation and censorship. State supervision throws into sharp relief the blend of respect and dismay with which official, middle-class Germany confronted the cinema.
Initial drafts of the Weimar constitution likewise rejected any infringement on freedom of expression. Yet as finally adopted the constitution included a rider article which permitted eventual censorship of film. Less than one year later May a Motion Picture Law instituted nationwide censorship. Article of the constitution and the law of May came from a National Assembly in which socialist and liberal-democratic deputies dominated.
Both provisions also passed by overwhelming majorities. Ostensibly serving to educate and thus protect the public, these films exploited the subject material for such sensational effect that they prompted public protest. The decision to include censorship provisions in the constitution was taken almost without debate, particularly on the part of the ruling parties.
In the spring and summer of the National Assembly admittedly had many more pressing matters to settle than a brief clause authorizing some future arrangement for movies. Nonetheless, apparent absence of partisanship is striking. Two weeks before ratification of the constitution, article prompted a brief exchange.
Independent Socialists USPD , by now seriously disaffected by the use of Republican troops against striking workers, blamed current abuses on the profiteering of big business and demanded state intervention to curb it, advocating censorship only to protect minors. The German Nationalists DNVP echoed these sentiments towards capitalist manipulation of the cultural and moral standards of the German people but believed censorship an adequate solution to the problem. While right and left therefore made common cause, Majority Socialists SPD and the Catholic Center Zentrum , the dominant parties in the assembly, silently accepted the reigning consensus.
The parliamentary discussion late in which preceded introduction of formal legislation underscored near unanimity on the need for action. That a Nationalist deputy who decried movies as a pestilence unleashed by unscrupulous capitalists won the applause of both the Center and the SPD gives a fair indication of the prevailing mood. To defend the cinema as an enormously important cultural advance and to question the practicality of censorship did little to dent the general opinion, prevalent even in their own ranks, that something had to be done, and immediately, to arrest the poisoning of German minds with filth and lies.
Censorship not only had the advantage of familiarity, but it also skirted the larger economic and political issues raised by suggestions of socializing the industry or communalizing the cinemas. Following the path of least resistance, Erich Koch, the Democratic Minister of the Interior, adopted the nationalist cry that the issue was not political but moral.
He promised a draft censorship law and possible restrictions on the expansion of motion picture theaters. The sense of inevitability about censorship pervades debate which ensued on second reading of the bill in April Each party now had its spokesperson and sought to articulate a distinct position, but on essentials the consensus emerged stronger than ever.
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The DDP launched debate with the open admission that in this case a break with its cherished principle of free speech was unavoidable. Similarly, while the USPD made another assault on the bill as evasion of socialization measures necessary in the production and exhibition sectors, it too preferred immediate action of some kind to a continuation of present circumstances.
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Consensus was so overwhelming that the spokesperson for the Center praised the agreement of deputies to limit debate so as to speed the enactment of the bill. Despite some sqabbling over details the Reichstag passed the final version rapidly and with only minor changes. The National Motion Picture Law thereby enacted created two censorship boards, one in Berlin and one in Munich, and an appeal board located in Berlin.
Films were to be reviewed by a five-person committee, a chairperson and four others. Representation was granted the film industry as well as pedagogues and cultural authorities. The appeal procedure was likewise handled by a mixed committee of experts. Although some disagreement surfaced over the composition and jurisdiction of these boards the greatest source of controversy was the crucial clause stipulating the grounds upon which the boards were to cut or ban motion pictures.
Although sexual suggestiveness created the immediate offense, the origins of the law must be located in assumptions about the influence of the medium. In fact, the kernel of the motion picture law offers the most eloquent statement of contemporary fears about the persuasive powers of the cinema and the serious challenge it posed to the religious, social, moral and political status quo.
To counter this challenge censors received a mandate comprehensive and flexible enough to cover any eventuality. Not by accident, the SPD spokesperson insisted that in no instance should political, social, religious, ethical or ideological opinions justify a ban. If censors had authority to protect public order and security their role could not but be political.
As the USPD repeatedly warned, censorship reflected a desire for control rooted in politics and was inevitably susceptible to abuse. Here partisan opinion vanished. The very general and universally applicable clause for restricting films did not leave much doubt about government intentions. Nor did the fact that the law overrode central control in this department, allowing local authorities to supercede the central boards to restrict films. Nor finally did censorship practice disappoint the framers of the legislation. Whereas censors banned a negligible number of films in the s, they classified roughly one-third of the total for adults only.
Protests from the film industry against this aspect of state paternalism proved futile. The upshot then of postwar policy was not the extensive restructuring envisioned since before the war by film reformers. The establishment in Berlin and Munich of central censorship boards spared producers the caprice of state or municipal authorities who, in the absence of federal control, had begun to exercise their own rights to censor movies.
Furthermore, the new system provided representation and safeguards for film interests. One-quarter of the committee which classified films was to consist of delegates of the industry and adverse decisions could be appealed to a supreme censorship court. Apart from complaints about unfair scapegoating of the cinema by centering it out for systematic censorship, and notwithstanding a fitful campaign to have the age of majority lowered to sixteen, trade reactions to the new law were not uniformly hostile.
Although disliked from opposing sides by advocates of freedom of expression and conservative film reformers, censorship represented a workable compromise. Less a matter for national politics but equally revealing for the place of cinema in Germany was the second official expedient used to control the movies, the entertainment tax or Lustbarkeitssteuer. This, a prewar practice borrowed from regulation of circuses and other public amusements, was a surcharge imposed by the municipality on ticket prices.
It fluctuated so widely from one locality to the next that any generalization about its severity is hazardous, but in the early s it ranged in the neighborhood of twenty to thirty percent. In some cities it rose well above these values, however, and was blamed for bankrupting otherwise profitable cinemas.
State control over the cinema through censorship and taxes merits attention not as evidence of outside manipulation of film production but as testimony to a consensus which acted as a powerful internal constraint. Apart from decisions on restricted films, censors made relatively few controversial judgments.
On the matter of taxation, loss of revenue obviously impacted the industry negatively, but it is idle to speculate about what German producers would have accomplished with an extra several million marks annually. The point is rather to emphasize the ambivalent position of cinema within Weimar culture as a whole.
On the one hand, the motion picture had become in the space of a decade an industry giving work to tens of thousands and diversion and instruction to millions. Its power to entertain and influence found almost universal recognition. On the other hand, there were no guarantees that the diversion and instruction it offered would prove either harmless or beneficial. The speculative, profit-seeking character of the industry weighed heavily against it.
Official Germany, not entirely certain how to cope with the new medium, adopted a policy of better safe than sorry. Fearing the unwashed heritage of the medium, the authorities devised a code which gave them virtually unlimited power over what German companies could produce or theaters exhibit and endorsed an entertainment tax which prevented the cinema from underbidding all other forms of amusement.
Censorship and tax policies indicate clearly what official Germany did not appreciate about the cinema. Their restrictive functions should not disguise, however, that both used negative means to forward a positive goal, namely, development of a cinema consonant with middle-class artistic, educational and moral standards. A prime case in point was the postwar report by the Popular Association for the Preservation of Decency and Good Morals in Cologne which damned ninety percent of all film releases as worthless or harmful.
But the attitudes which it betrayed cannot be dismissed as the pettifogging of a morally fastidious fringe. Although extreme in formulation, it expressed sentiments which enjoyed wide currency in bourgeois Germany. These did more than is usually acknowledged to shape the contours of Weimar cinema culture. Moral crusaders and state authorities played no active role in the production process. While the industry had no choice but to cooperate at one remove with the latter, it ridiculed and pretended to ignore the former as exponents of a dying world. Nonetheless, both carried tremendous indirect weight because their aspirations were those of the dominant groups in German society.
Their desire to ennoble the movies, to fit them to a middle-class mold of sophistication, virtue and seriousness, impacted German producers in three ways. First, it demanded practical accommodation as a means of broadening and enlarging the domestic cinema audience. Second, it encouraged production eligible for tax relief and other forms of indulgence from local, provincial and national authorities.
Third and most crucially, it corresponded to a need for legitimization and self-realization which existed within film circles. The drive to ennoble the cinema was not just imposed from without. Indeed the unifying feature of that portion of Weimar cinema best remembered today was self-conscious striving for the embourgeoisement of the motion picture—even if in antibourgeois interest.
Efforts by film reformers, censors and champions of film art to preserve bourgeois cultural hegemony and inherited artistic values reinforced the tendency for cinema to fracture along class lines. While Weimar did not entertain a strictly dualistic cinema culture, it did resist the democratic tendencies of the medium.
One symptom of the differentiation which resulted, though scarcely unique to Germany, was the wide range of theater types. At one extreme, cinema entertainment rivaled opera or live theater in orchestration and dramatic impact, not to mention in admission price. Gala premieres in palatial theaters boasting big-budget movies, full orchestras and illustrated programs, attended by leading government and business personalities, lent the cinema respectability.
Another indication of the varieties of cinema experience was the range of motion pictures produced in Germany. Historical interest has, of course, been heavily weighted toward a group of artistically pioneering motion pictures. Although informed contemporaries had a natural tendency to identify Weimar cinema with this select group of films, they knew that experimental works and artistic masterpieces did not dominate domestic production.
More numerous and generally more popular were the sensationalist films of Harry Piel, light dramas of Helen Richter or the military farces and Rhein-Wein-Gesang films which fed provincial audiences. Fritz Lang was a master of the potboiler, sometimes disguised as art; Henny Porten played in everything from serious chamber drama to sentimental family comedies; Erich Pommer produced a kaleidoscopic array of pretentious and unsophisticated entertainment. In the final analysis it is misleading to designate any one variant of domestic production normative.
Under these circumstances it is no surprise that contemporary opinion on the cinema exhibited multiple purposes and levels of seriousness. In the broadest sense of the term, the film press encompassed everything from advertising to philosophy. At one remove, trade papers served the industry with news, film criticism and a forum for representation and debate of issues affecting the industry. Daily newspapers, both national and local, offered commercial news, criticism and feuilleton meditations on the medium.
Select journals of art and culture included the motion picture within their purview as both an artistic and commercial phenomenon. In addition, miscellaneous publications ranging from dissertations to technical reports treated the economic, legal or political dimensions of the movies. Concentrated in Berlin, where it had the broadest audience and the greatest potential for impacting the production process, criticism became a small industry in its own right.
Institutionalized in the context of the industrialization and embourgeoisement of the cinema outlined above, it inevitably became caught between competing agendas for the cinema.
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The often bitter struggle to define legitimate criticism paralleled conflict over the balance of commercial and creative impulses appropriate to the medium. Critical judgment on motion pictures juxtaposed the dominant public voice of the nineteenth century—the press—and the dominant public medium of the twentieth century—the moving picture. Thereafter, apart from notices announcing movie programs, press treatment of the cinema remained spotty until the establishment of permanent theaters and the flowering of the film reform movement in the last years before the outbreak of war.
Beginning in the first of the trade papers appeared, giving the branches of the industry a vehicle with which to present their views and counter the publishing crusade of the reformers. At the same time movie ads became part of the growing tie between film and newspapers. Shortly before film began to receive serious though selective treatment in the daily press and some magazines of art and culture.
Despite the deepening and inevitable tie between cinema and the press, relations were not altogether harmonious. As the upstart, the motion picture quickly recognized that the press had the power to do it great harm or great good. Film interests knew that without capturing press attention and sympathy there existed little chance of winning a broader audience. As a seminal prewar trade article put it, the press was the field upon which the battle between friends and foes of cinema would be decided. Since public recognition represented the first priority of the industry, and since the key to that lay in the hands of the press, close collaboration was highly desirable.
To encourage benevolent exposure on the widest possible front film companies began to establish news services and appoint press representatives to improve their public profile. In the unfolding relationship between the cinema and the press film criticism came to occupy a pivotal role. The motion picture industry welcomed the attention which reviews provided and especially the dignity conferred by critical appraisal.
To be ignored meant relegation to casual amusement; serious reviews lent motion pictures status comparable to opera or theater. However, the possibility of unsympathetic or uninformed reviews which masqueraded as earnest commentary created considerable ambivalence.
The right of unfettered criticism, to which even the industry had to pay lip service to maintain its pretensions to cultural worth, boomeranged all too frequently. Although film circles could not monopolize opinion, trade journals provided an inherently friendly and prolific source of film reviews. By the s a handful of trade papers had become firmly established.
Apart from providing commentary on economic, political and artistic issues, technical news, and copious advertising space, they all published film reviews. Trade reviews varied greatly in nature and quality depending on the specific clientele to which a journal was directed, the commercial ties between the paper and the industry, and, of course, the individuals responsible. While most trade papers professed to serve the entire film business, rather than one of its branches, differences still existed.
For most of the decade Reichsfilmblatt represented independent cinema owners. Film-Kurier, at least in the s, had pretensions to elevated status as a national newspaper serving the public as well as the specialist. Kinematograph, part of the Scherl concern from , and after married through Hugenberg to UFA, had specific economic as well as political interests to defend. It devoted considerable attention to the economic potential and international connections of the German cinema. Despite their differences, trade papers ostensibly reviewed motion pictures to provide exhibitors a basis for determining which films to book.
To this end Reichsfilmblatt and, in less systematic ways, other papers included box-office estimates with their critiques of plot, cinematography and acting. While this approach respected the commercial realities of filmmaking, it also betrayed proximity to the industry which was widely held to infringe critical objectivity. The nontrade critics often branded trade reviewers the servants of commercial interests and refused to take them seriously. Many newspapers treated motion pictures casually before the Weimar period, but it was in the course of the first half of the s that they institutionalized film criticism.
Numerous dailies introduced weekly film sections with general news and reviews. Even the stuffier bourgeois press deigned to make some space for film affairs. Nonetheless, variations in coverage and perspective were considerable. Some attempted to provide reviews of all new releases; others operated very selectively.
A major premiere which merited a feuilleton article in one could elicit only a few lines in another. Since two large publishers, Scherl and Ullstein, had investments in cinema, it is also fanciful to assume newspaper critics necessarily enjoyed fewer commercial entanglements than their trade colleagues. To the third group of critics, those who published in independent journals of art and culture, newspaper reviewers were generally no less compromised. Other literary or theatrical journals contributed to one or other aspect of the debate about cinema, but did not publish regular film reviews.
Paralleling the hierarchy of sources which reviewed motion pictures was a hierarchy of critics. There is therefore meaningful correlation between the quality usually assigned the source and the eminence of the individual responsible for reviews. Within this select group persona and perspective can be related on the basis of substantial collections of critical material. In sum, even the outstanding names of Weimar film criticism rarely derived their incomes and reputations exclusively or predominantly from this pursuit.
Beyond a score of prominent figures, most of whom could afford to treat film criticism as only one facet of their careers, there existed a large pool of critics for whom film was a way of life. Numbering dozens in Berlin alone, these ranged from the trade critics to the regular reviewers for newspapers and popular film magazines. Since keeping pace with the half-dozen or more releases which appeared each week during the premiere season strained the capacity of a single reviewer, trade journals and newspapers alike frequently had a lead critic who handled the most important premieres and a number of assistants to cope with the rest.
According to the trade press, newspaper criticism suffered from this state of affairs because the individuals entrusted with reviews often proved woefully ignorant of film basics. Young, bottom-ranking or part-time reporters were assigned to cover premieres regardless of their knowledge of or interest in motion pictures.
At a distance of six decades the more salient problem is that sheer numbers and rapid turnover blur personalities and approaches. Moreover, it is not always possible even to identify reviewers: It also encounters an endless mass of criticism distinguished only by its lack of distinction. Small wonder that historians have generally ignored this material, considering it worthless except perhaps as testimony to the endless repetition which characterizes movie entertainment. Their indifference is doubly justified if one accepts the view that much of the film criticism from this period was tainted by financial pressure.
Yet if the lack of personal profiles for many critics is frustrating, it is not sufficient reason to disregard a large body of opinion whose importance lies as much in its uniformity as in its peculiarities. For the purpose of establishing broad patterns of opinion, anonymity presents no insuperable obstacle. Although generalizations about the majority of critics must be somewhat tentative, three fairly obvious ones can be ventured. The first is that critics belonged to the same generation as cinematography itself. As a rule they were born in the s or s and grew up alongside, if not in close association with, the movies.
The reason for this is not hard to find. As a boom business in the troubled years right after the war, film attracted an assorted band of young employment seekers—writers as well as actors, technicians, extras and theater attendants. Film criticism provided an outlet for an educated stratum unable to find positions in traditional areas. A surprising number of doctorates turned up in a field which enjoyed almost no academic respectability at this point except on the fringes of economics and law.
Entering a tight job market as the cinema expanded, they found a new avenue by which to enjoy status, however dubious, as writers or journalists. The second generic feature one may identify follows directly from the first. By affiliating themselves with the movies, even if only in a critical capacity, these persons demonstrated allegiance to a cultural upstart. Certainly their interest in the cinema was mercenary, but there is ample evidence of broader commitment to a novel medium, one not yet encrusted by convention.
This youthful, forward-looking dimension of the motion picture made it attractive to a generation in search of new cultural models.
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The third point of note is that many critics served the motion picture industry in other capacities. This overlap of function has the historical advantage that critics were insiders or spokespersons for the industry, a fact of major importance when evaluating critical perceptions of Hollywood. It also, however, raises serious questions about the integrity of the critical process. The contemporary controversy about film criticism revolved around two basic questions—evaluative paradigms and professional ethics.
Its practice necessarily reflected the tension between these goals. Film criticism had to justify itself against middle-class notions of art as autonomous, individual creation divorced from commerce and profit. Some disagreement about emphasis and purpose was certainly inevitable. Whether reviews should focus on theme, acting and directing, or be preoccupied with cinematography, or address questions of public resonance, commercial prospects and political overtones: However, in Weimar Germany these issues became matters of principle which generated much acrimony.
Trade critics charged their counterparts in the daily press and cultural journals with ignorance of the medium, application of lofty and irrelevant criteria and disregard for the commercial risks and responsibilities of the industry. The latter replied with accusations of inconsistency, whitewashing and outright corruption.
At the heart of this feud lay not only differences of opinion but also confusion about the nature of the medium and unfair generalization. Although reviews in trade papers, the daily press and independent journals showed significant variations, these did not correspond neatly to stereotype. Trade critics did focus heavily on technical questions and box-office appeal, but they also systematically evaluated acting and directing with the artistic criteria they complained dominated newspaper criticism.
The prominent theater critic, Herbert Ihering, identified in this the uncertainty of the industry about its cultural role. Wanting acceptance of cinema as a unique form of expression rather than a poor cousin to literature or theater, film experts demanded recognition of the industrial character of the medium, resisting measurement by critical standards from other media. Questions of psychological depth, plot development and dramatic conflict crowded out specifically filmic concerns such as pictorial rhythm or lighting effects.
In short, the film industry welcomed the use of literary or theatrical paradigms when these flattered its productions; otherwise it demanded treatment as a commercial and technical medium. Although the principle that cinema was a case sui generis would have received virtually universal assent, in critical practice, no party applied it consistently.
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No critic could escape the language and categories of other art forms in attempting to give the motion picture its aesthetic due. Trade critics were by no means the only ones to interchange critical standards to suit their purposes. Ihering himself tried to preserve a traditional understanding of the critical process while infusing it with paradigms appropriate to the motion picture. Just as in commercial concerns the trade press reached outside itself for recognized standards, nontrade critics had to appreciate the industrial character of cinema to write meaningful reviews.
Consequently, distinctions between criticism in the trade press, dailies and journals of art and culture were anything but tidy. Tension between the industrial, public and artistic dimensions of the medium plagued attempts to establish the parameters of motion picture criticism, but it also generated bitter polemics about professional ethics.
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Confrontation occurred at two levels, corporate and personal. The first of these involved the intimate relationship between publishers and the film industry, especially in the matter of advertising. The trade papers included extensive advertising sections, usually in excess of editorial information. They also received a variety of complimentary promotional material—photos, film synopses, premiere notices or articles on popular performers—from the film companies. Their reliance on income from advertising and the convenience of prepackaged news pressured them to trim reviews to avoid offending major producers and theater chains.
Trade reviews therefore tended to be lame or bland, loaded with euphemisms to cover flaws, or indiscriminately effusive in a fashion better suited to advertising than criticism. Neither served the best interests of the industry in the long run, as the trade papers themselves repeatedly warned, but the pressure to temper criticism to safeguard their financial lifeline remained.
Trade papers relied most directly on industrial benevolence, but they were not alone in their commercial entanglements. Newspapers too had more than casual associations with the industry. As noted above, leading publishers had investments in film. More pervasively, movie advertising became a prime source of revenue for the daily press.
There can be no doubt that the industry felt it paid for a certain measure of goodwill. For the marks it invested in advertising it expected critical respect. To what extent this colored the critical process became a subject of rancorous debate. Although it is difficult to pinpoint editorial pressure on critics, the evidence for conflict and reprisals against the press when reviews failed to meet the expected standard of kindness is incontrovertible.
Complaints to publishers from producers disturbed by the treatment of their products occasionally became public issues in which critics had the opportunity to make their opinions heard. Later that year, disgruntled with the state of film criticism, UFA decided to publish comparisons of public responses and critical practice in the United States and Germany to expose the subjective, unhelpful character of German film reviews.
Conflict between the industry and the press spilled over into feuds between the trade journals and between critics from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy. Disputes essentially concerned the charge of conflict of interest. Chief culprits were those who mixed critical functions with personal enrichment from the industry, principally trade journalists who wrote reviews with one hand and sold advertising contracts with the other. The most notorious of these was the motion picture mouthpiece of Scherl Publishers, Alfred Rosenthal Aros , press agent, ad man and critic with outlets in Kinematograph and in the Hugenberg dailies.
For outsiders this case reinforced the conviction that corruption was rampant in the trade press. Personal vendettas in the trade press highlighted a search for workable ethical norms which reached to the very top of the critical pyramid and bore directly on the ability of American companies to purchase benevolent treatment with advertising space and gratis promotional information. The nub of the controversy was the propriety of contributing in any fashion to the business of film while continuing to pursue critical activity.