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In Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin, the first-ever feature documentary on the inventor of the "Lubitsch Touch", Lubitsch's daughter Nicola guides us through her father's exciting time in Germany, supported by an illustrious group of film historians, Lubitsch experts and some of today's most influential German film directors. Rare film clips, newly discovered photographs, newsreel footage and original audio recordings with actress Henny Porten, other first-hand witnesses and Lubitsch himself round off this comprehensive portrait of one of cinema's few true geniuses. Written by
This documentary about Ernst Lubitsch's life and films while in Germany is rather bland and dry, as fellow IMDb reviewer planktonrules remarked. The feature, however, does provide a decent introduction to the details of Lubitsch's life in Berlin. It relies on interviews, mostly his daughter, who admits she isn't an expert on her father's life or films in Germany. Much of the program is spent on her discoveries of this time and her, apparently, recent and singular screening of his German silents at a film festival that is frequently mentioned in the documentary and was probably the impetus for it. Consequently, much of this material is family-tree type findings (at one point, they even spend time looking for Lubitsch's gravesite). Additionally, the talking heads, so to speak, can become boring.
The outline of Lubitsch's work as a theatrical actor for the famous Max Reinhardt through his beginnings as a filmmaker do provide some interesting information, though. The parts about his early films where he acted in comedies based around a stereotypical Jewish character were interesting, especially because these films aren't widely available now. Otherwise, the documentary isn't enlightening in regards to Lubitsch's films and film-making. There are clips from about a couple dozen of his films, but, overall, I would've preferred more filmography in this documentary. Yet, film often ends up not being the best medium to discuss itself.
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