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Fritz Lang, "The Future of the Feature Film in Germany" (1926)

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The Future of the Feature Film in Germany

There has perhaps never before been a time so determined as ours in its search for new forms of expression. Fundamental revolutions in painting, sculpture, architecture, and music speak eloquently of the fact that people of today are seeking and finding their own means of lending artistic form to their sentiments. Film has an advantage over all other expressive forms: its freedom from space, time, and place. What makes it richer than the others is the natural expressiveness inherent in its formal means. I maintain that film has barely risen above the first rung on the ladder of its development, and that it will become the more personal, the stronger, and more artistic the sooner it renounces all transmitted or borrowed expressive forms and throws itself into the unlimited possibilities of the purely filmic.

The speed with which film has developed in the last five years makes all predictions about it appear dangerous, for it will probably exceed each one by leaps and bounds. Film knows no rest. What was invented yesterday is already obsolete today. This uninterrupted drive for new modes of expression, this intellectual experimentation, along with the joy Germans characteristically take in overexertion, appear to me to fortify my contention that film as art will first find its form in Germany. For it is not to be found in the absence of a desire to experiment, nor in the absence of a drive toward incessant formal invention (however trustworthy and fruitful the old remains), nor most especially in the absence of uninterrupted overexertion in the name of results, which can only be achieved with that particularly German kind of stamina and imagination, of those who become obsessed with the work from the first idea on.

Germany has never had, and never will have, the gigantic human and financial reserves of the American film industry at its disposal. To its good fortune. For that is exactly what forces us to compensate a purely material imbalance through an intellectual superiority.

From among the thousands of examples that support my theory, I wish to single out only one.

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