Nollendorfplatz – The Ufa-Pavillon am Nollendorfplatz was one of the imposing new cinemas that sprang up in the city in the 1920s. Experiencing Berlin cinema was an extremely popular activity among British visitors.
In the interwar period Berlin became a world capital of cinema. It was home to Ufa, the production and distribution company famous for its collaborations with Fritz Lang and F. W. Murnau, and to the large film studios at Babelsberg. The Ufa-Pavillon am Nollendorfplatz was one of the glitzy new cinemas that sprang up around the city in the 1920s. Large and brightly lit with artificial light to advertise the latest films, these buildings left a characteristic mark on the urban landscape. The areas around Kurfürstendamm, Nollendorfplatz, and Potsdamerplatz were particularly known for their modern film theatres.
Berlin’s thriving film culture formed part of the everyday life of the city. Many literary accounts of this period note the Berliners’ passion for cinema-going and the massive presence of picture-houses. Christopher Isherwood loved film, and scattered references to cinema all throughout his writings. His friend Stephen Spender left an account of the two of them making long trips in order to visit the tiny cinemas hidden among the vast workers’ tenements of the city’s outlying districts. Alix Strachey also spent a lot of her free time in cinemas, but she seldom recorded what she saw in her letters. Watching films was an equally popular activity among short-term visitors. In 1929, Virginia Woolf, together with her sister Vanessa Bell, Vita Sackville-West and other Bloomsbury friends, went to see Vsevolod Pudovkin’s Storm over Asia. The party disagreed bitterly over the film’s portrayal of British imperialism. For British visitors, a special attraction of Berlin cinemas was to see Soviet films, which were subject to severe censorship in Britain. Bryher’s experiences of Berlin cinema in the 1920s were instrumental to her introducing Eisenstein and Soviet cinema to Britain. Stefano Evangelista