Organized in association with the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden and in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, this exhibition—the most extensive ever mounted in the United States of German films made between the world wars—includes seventy-five feature-length films and six shorts, along with a gallery exhibition of Weimar-era film posters and stills. The exhibition continues the tradition of Iris Barry, the world’s first curator of film and founding curator of MoMA’s Department of Film, who began adding German films to the collection in the mid-1930s and exhibited a deep commitment to this rich period of film culture throughout her career. Daydreams and Nightmares also builds upon the scholarly legacy of Siegfried Kracauer’s seminal 1947 book From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, which the émigré film and social critic wrote (at Barry’s invitation) at The Museum of Modern Art.
In addition to classic films by Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, and G. W. Pabst, among others, the exhibition includes many films, unseen for decades, that were restored after German reunification. The extensive program reaches beyond the standard view of Weimar cinema—which sees its tropes of madmen, evil geniuses, pagan forces, and schizophrenic behavior as dark harbingers of Hitler—by adding another perspective: that of the popular German cinema of the period. The development of Weimar cinema coincides with the coming of sound, and German filmmakers also excelled in the making of popular musicals, cabaret-type comedies, and dramas, shot outside the studio, that tackled social issues.
All silent films have piano accompaniment by Ben Model, Stuart Oderman, or Donald Sosin.
This film exhibition is presented in conjunction with a gallery exhibition.
The film portion of the exhibition is organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, and Eva Orbanz, Senior Curator, Special Projects, Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen. The gallery exhibition is organized by Laurence Kardish and Ronald S. Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.