This one is good news / bad news. An enormous lot of work has gone into documenting the history of German film and the makers are at pains to say they didn't want to produce a canon, which is admirable. Some of the lab work - particularly on the early black and white films - is exceptional and excellent music gives new life to the silents. On the other hand they seem to have trouble with Agfacolor which is reproduced blotchy and contrasty.
A project like this is never going to keep everyone happy but the maskers have introduced a couple of fundamental flaws. Going with the idea of German gloominess, which Wenders puts forward, they have soft peddled the operetta tradition, which is one of the richest in the German film. Where in all this is CONGRESS DANCES? They are actually light on in the early sound film - KAMARADSCHAFT, THEFT OF THE MONA LISA.
Similarly, their emphasis on faces, with which they get their best results (the actor close-up montage is brilliant), minimizes the importance of decor and design, one of the strengths of the German film.
It takes a while to work out who these talking head commentators are - till they get to introduce their favorite films - and the notion that this is an educational tool should be firmly discouraged. People you don't recognise, saying the names of people and films you've never heard of will alienate any non German audience. Only a few of us determined film freaks will persist to mine this one for it's strengths.
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