HOW TO FIND THE FILM MUSEUM IN FRANKFURT
While you are making your way through the streets of the ‘Innenstadt” (inner city) of Frankfurt, it’s about a perfect time to cross the Main river, which has once graced the city with its name, and to visit the German Film Museum or ‘DEUTSCHES FILMMUSEUM’ in Frankfurt. The authentic name of this to a great extend extraordinary place is no less than the ‘Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum’ (The German Film Institute and Film Museum). The building has once found its place at Schaumainkai 41, at arm’s length from the city main river within a picturesque promenade across the business Downtown of Frankfurt. The location is of easy access by means of the ‘Untermainbrucke’ bridge, can be translated as ‘A bridge under Main’.
THE HISTORY OF THE DEUTSCHES FILMINSTITUT & FILMMUSEUM
Regardless of the historical origin of the building, the German Film Museum in Frankfurt was inaugurated not earlier than 1984 and now is among the seventh institutions of its kind in Germany. The Film Institute and Film Museum carry on a heritage of the non-commercial cinema performances, previously used to be performed within the after-war building of the Historical Museum. At the forefront of the creation of a film museum, a historical villa on Schaumainkai 41 was repatriated and reconstructed. It’s worth mentioning that the place has gained its full modern name only in 2006 as a result of the merging of the Film Museum and the Film Institut (Deutsches Filminstitut). The year 2009 has witnessed the start of the renovation works, which took two years and the new grand opening was ceremonially managed on August 12, 2011. The premises of the building store one among the largest movie archives in the world with more than 80 000 tapes and footages, all for the public.
THE LOBBY OF THE MUSEUM
The lobby of the German Film Museum can be characterized as no less than a masterpiece of design and a desirable piece of cake for all who are in love with movies. Once you find yourself inside, it’s easy to experience the involvement in this art, which we generally used to face beyond the movie screen at home or in the cinema. You may start your visit with one of the information brochures, devoted both the main exposition of the museum and the movie classic. This improvised route to the cash-office would be also accompanied by a thematic store.
You are free to buy a book on movie theory, thematic albums, devoted to the recognized directors, specific movies in German and English. Movie posters, pen with movie design, decks of cards, cups, platters, toys and even bags for shopping with printed images. The walls of the lobby are covered with compilations of the scenes from well-known movies, a number of plastic installations were placed all over the hall and the authentic movie projector of the early XX century seduces to touch it or take a photo at least. Indeed, even the cafe looks like a cozy addition to the movie interior, integrally with stairs, a cloakroom and a WC also made to correlate the place.
FLOOR 1. FILM VISION
The FILM VISION is no less than the first part of the permanent exhibition of the Film Museum. The very floor of the building is dedicated to the evolution of the public perception of the media, our sense of what will later revolutionize into a world cinema and television. The exhibition covers the years of the XVIII-XIX centuries and uses the evolution of the mechanisms and techniques to reveal the early history of the media with an invention of Lumiere brothers in 1895 as the culmination. We are now ready to study up on the accessories used to be the forefathers of the projector and the camera. The exhibition deepens into the influence which these inventions and their public accessibility have made on the world culture. This simplest equipment indeed can rationalize the very nature of the human sense and perception. At the same time, it’s not so about the chronology of the inventions and rather about the evolution of the perception and circulation of information.
CURIOSITY. The exhibition welcomes us with a variety of accessories: a peep show kinetoscope, kaleidoscope, anamorphosis. In further words, we face the inventions for the optical illusions. As a mean of example, a few screen images, lined up one in front of another at the right angle can form up a dimensional representation, similar to the modern 3D. What is more interesting, that you can explore the authentic accessories on your own to reveal pretty the same picture, that has once intrigued the public of New York or Paris back in the XIX century.
MOVEMENT. Well in advance of the Lumiere’s ‘coming train’, the optical illusions of the past used to provide means to experience an illusion of the moving images. You can observe the famous ‘Faraday Wheel’ as well as its later modernized version, known as the ‘Wheel of life’. The flipbooks or kineographs were no more than images within the pages of the notebook, which could be ‘brought to life’ by means of the fast paging. The ‘Movement’ exposition provides an understanding of how our brain can sense any movement as a succession of single images and vise versa. It’s obvious that no movie can exist without movement and the invention of the stroboscopic effect in the XIX century once allowed to reinvent our knowledge on the visual presentation of the surrounding world.
EXPOSITION. Highly likely that every movie passionator and those inquisitive by nature know about the ‘Camera Obscura’. It was a tough call to depicture any image or a picture pattern and to make it constantly accessible. The photography has once come to the rescue and become another important antecessor of the movie and television.
PROJECTION. Probably only a few know the invention, called the ‘light’ or ‘lamp-post-camera’. The exhibition provides us with the authentic rough copy of the century-before-last accessory with images accompanying with music and songs and even commentaries.
MOVING IMAGES. In the last years of the XIX century, both scientists and entertainers were a hand’s width apart from the invention of the cinema. A number of prominent historical figures and early filmmakers such as Lumieres and Skladanowsky, photographer Ottomar Anschütz, inventor Etienne-Jules Marey, they all were wrestling with the problem to correlate the space with a projection of images. You can both fascinate yourself with the original Lumieres movie posters and projectors and to bring to life the famous train on its way to the 1895 platform.
MOVIE. You will probably move around this modest showroom on your way along with the exposition. And it’s time to draw aside the curtain, to take a place on a bench and experience a few dozens of the movies from the 1895-1911 years. Silent movie in the early years of the moviemaking, the authentic films of the Lumiere brothers and even the first movie made in the city of Frankfurt.
FLOOR 2. THE MOVIE STORYTELLING
To the extent the first floor of the exhibition granted us with the elementary course of the prehistory of moving images, the second part of the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum exposition deepens into the elements of the filmmaking and reveals the effect on the viewer. Beyond question and no mistake, that we live in an era of the rapid technical progress and evolution of recording and projection inventions, yet an emphasis on the technique would always be prevailed by the mastery of movie storytelling. Parts of the German Film Museum exhibition on the second floor show us how the angles can affect our outlook, the special effect can animate the decorations, actors personate into the most incredible characters, the lightning influence the emotional climate, music accompanies the image and editing can create masterpieces of kilometers of the black film stock or terabytes of the digital information.
MOVIE ROOM. Another bigger movie hall once found its place directly opposite the entrance, giving the increasing impression of a site you are now visiting. Highly unlikely that you would find another place to experience the four-in-one movie screen with two of them perpendicular. The museum booklet informs us that the movie repertory includes a 40-minute montage of the movie’s scenes from a hundred of films. This show of editing both combine the scenes from one particular movie and a contrast montage of similar moments. The museum used to operate the more archaic version of the projector with a specialist to deal with the stock and now it’s all about HD digital image, without a need to ‘change’ the film strip.
ACTING. In little matters whether beautiful images do the filmmakers have, yet its characters who ‘tell’ the story and the mastery of acting fill the action with the emotional background. The left part of the exhibition pays attention to the movie characters, whose actors were ‘hidden’ beyond the masks and makeup. We can see the costumes, elements of the complex face paint, a model of ALIEN from the 1979 original movie, made up full-size thanks to the originals sketches of Hans Rudolf «Rüdi» Giger.
A little farther, the ‘ACTING’ museum exposition informationally plunges us into the make-up process with the backstage photos of actors. Among other things we observe Dustin Hoffman during his preliminary hours to act in ‘Death Of A Salesman’. The authentic concept of the T-800 for Arnold Schwarzenegger on ‘Terminator 2’. The sketches of costumes for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The photos of 1942 once witnessed German actor Otto Gebühr, who used to put his makeup to make him look relevant to the Friedrich II, a king of Prussia in propaganda movie of the Third Reich era, known as ‘The Great King’.
The upcoming exposition points out attention at the helmet of Darth Vader. This very plastic movie prop was not destined to be included in the legendary STAR WARS saga, yet it was used to tune the lighting for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It was of great disturbance to use the illumination onset in order to avoid flares within the scenes with the main antagonist. The wall on the right impresses with the authentic German posters of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961) with Audrey Hepburn and the ‘Queen Christina’ (1933) with Greta Garbo respectively.
Another shadow glass box of the exhibition, dedicated to ACTING, reveals the nature of the body language in movies. For example, the shot-by-shot breakdown of movement for characters of the ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937). The emotional shots from the movies of Romy Schneider, a French-German actress. The facial expression from the dialogues of the ‘Rats’ (1955), a West German movie. The next highlight of the museum exposition, after the Alien and the helmet of Darth Vader, is no less than a real OSCAR statue. It was once inaugurated to the Austrian actor Maximilian Schell for his legendary role in ‘Judgment at Nuremberg’ (1961).
SOUND. It’s common for people to underestimate sound and music in movies, though even the trailers and teasers for the upcoming premieres are generally printed on memory thanks to the soundtrack and impressive audio mixing. These poor-lighted corners of the exhibition of the German Film Museum in Frankfurt expose the piano score for the ‘Metropolis’ (1927), a classic of the silent movie era. The glass exhibits the cover and the platter itself of the soundtrack for the ‘EASY RIDER’. A little console with earphones gives you a chance to mix the audio effects for the action scene from ‘MATRIX’, a fight between Neo and Morpheus.
IMAGE. Insofar as the first floor let us into the basics of composition, here we can expertize the particular elements, which can influence our perception. The mastery of the cameraman as well as the positioning of the camera, the lightning, movie location and decorations, color palette and special effects. Every visitor of the museum has a chance to experience the famous ‘GREEN SCREEN’, an integral feature of modern film making. You can position a particular spot on the floor to find ourselves inside the illusion of one of the three screens.
The exhibition continues our way to see the real cameras of the past and present moviemaking to create the IMAGE. Passing another cozy showroom, you would find the sketches, dedicated to image. For example drawings for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Shrek’. Shot-by-shot animation for the ‘TRON’ 1982 movie. A sketch of the color palette for the classic ‘PETER PAN’ (1953) and exposure sheets of the T-REX from the ‘Jurassic Park’. A cardboard cutout of the residential estate from the ‘PERFUMER’ (2007). A design for panoramic shots of the city of the future from the ‘AI’ by Steven Spielberg.
EDITING. The image, sound and even the mastery of acting, all can come to life as a complete creation thanks to EDITING. This work generally takes even much time than the filming itself and the process demands months of audio mixing, being self-imprisoned in the editing studio. A complete installation is dedicated to the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. You can see from a short distance the very wooden tablet, used for decades to line up the scenes into a montage. The interactive panel gives a chance to edit scenes from legendary movies such as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Indiana Jones’.