THE UFA STORY by Klaus Kreimeier


A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company, 1918-1945
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 Kreimeier, former cultural editor of the German magazine Der Spiegel, traces the history of the film company that is synonymous with the golden era of German film. Ufa, the Universum Film-Aktiongesellschaft (Universal Film Corporation), was the heart of German cinema from the early 1920s through the fall of the Third Reich, ``Germany's imperial purveyor of magical images.'' As Kreimeier explains in this exhaustively complete history of the company, Ufa's roots were in the ultranationalist German right wing, and from the very beginning, the corporation's vision was linked to the political agenda of the Wilhelmine old guard. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, the company was the brainchild of General Ludendorff and his underlings, who felt that the film industry had't done enough to propagandize on behalf of German armed forces during the recently concluded world war. With the Deutsche Bank playing a principal role throughout its history, Ufa would continue to be linked to Pan-German ideologues with ties to heavy industry; in 1927, the company was taken over by Alfred Hugenberg, chairman of the Krupp armaments empire and head of one of the ultra-right political parties. And when the Nazis came to power, Ufa, which had already swallowed many of its competitors, was the perfect vehicle for Goebbels's vision of a state-controlled film industry serving the needs of the Nazi Party. In spite of its political roots, Ufa managed to produce many memorable films and a host of great talents, including directors like Fritz Lang and Ernst Lubitsch, stars like Emil Jannings and, perhaps most important of all, producer Erich Pommer. Kreimeier is more concerned with the political and economic machinations of the company and the cultural history that produced it than with the films themselves, but the book that results is a model of unflinching corporate history. An essential piece of film history and riveting reading. Only star-gazing film buffs will be disappointed. (121 b&w photos)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8090-9483-5
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996