German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Photo of Max ReinhardtReinhardt, Max

(Baden 1873–New York 1943)

Born as Maximilian Goldmann. Director. As director and owner of the Deutsche Theater Berlin, he was Germany's most influential figure in the Expressionist movement of the early twentieth century. He was responsible for training numerous actors who began their careers in the theater, but who eventually went on to work in cinema. Reinhardt's staging of crowds and use of lighting were frequently appropriated by the great filmmakers of the Weimar Republic, including Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau. His emphasis on uniquely expressive acting skills influenced the likes of Felix Bressart and Paul Henreid and made international stars out of many, many more. As a Jew, however, Reinhardt's status as a great artistic innovator was threatened when Hitler came to power. The Nazis began to expropriate his theaters in Germany, and he was subsequently forced to leave the country. He emigrated to America in 1934 and co-directed A Midsummer Night's Dream with his former disciple, William Dieterle, in 1935. Although this would remain his only US feature, he remained active in the arts, concentrating his talents on the acting school he founded in New York. Lotte Eisner has written a fascinating study on Reinhardt's influence on film and theater in Germany, but his contributions were indeed invaluable to the world.

GERMAN 43: Exiles and Émigrés
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