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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 14 October 2016
I agreed about 10days ago with Wardour Films to write the English titles for the English production of the German 'Ufa' film "Faust". I offered to do the work for £300. They said they could not pay more than £200. I would not budge. They gave in. I immediately began the work. The film is not as good as they think it is but I can make it better.
So today at 3.30 I was in the film world at Wardour Street, and I saw my titles for Part I of "Faust" roughly on the screen. T. told me that the Censor would not pass the word 'damned', and when in another place I altered a phrase to "Show me woman in the flesh", he said the Censor would not pass that either. It is a great and fearful world the film-world. I drove home in a taxi. This is the first time I have taken a taxi either to or from the film-world. I am getting fonder and fonder of motor-bus riding.
When I was at Wardour Street a few days ago the London representative of 'Ufa' came in and heard what I had to say. He at once said that, in addition to communicating with Berlin to get the necessary work done, he would inform America as the suggestion would be even more valuable there (where the story of Faust is not so well known as it is in England).
Ufa, in full Universum Film-Aktien Gesellschaft, German motion-picture production company that made artistically outstanding and technically competent films during the silent era. Located in Berlin, its studios were the best equipped and most modern in the world. It encouraged experimentation and imaginative camera work and employed such directors as Ernst Lubitsch, famous for directing sophisticated comedies, and G.W. Pabst, a pioneer in the expressive use of camera position and editing techniques.
UFA was established in 1917 when the German government consolidated most of the nation’s leading studios. Its purpose was to promote German culture and, in the years following World War I, to enhance Germany’s international image. At first, UFA produced mostly historical and costume dramas, including Die Augen der Mumie Ma (1918; The Eyes of the Mummy) and Carmen (1918), both directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Pola Negri. The company soon acquired several theatres throughout Germany and inaugurated Berlin’s lavish Film Palast am Zoo with the premiere of Lubitsch’s Madame Dubarry (1919; also released as Passion), an international hit that did much to open the door for German films in countries where they had been banned since the war.
In 1923 the studio acquired one of the world’s largest production facilities, at Neubabelsberg, as a result of its merger with the film company Decla Bioscop. This move, however, coincided with the increasing popularity in Germany of Hollywood films, and UFA’s resulting financial crises compelled the studio to produce mostly inexpensive documentary films for the next few years. Distribution deals with the American studios Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ultimately proved disastrous, but UFA rallied long enough to produce such classics as F.W. Murnau’s Der letzte Mann (1924; The Last Laugh), Edwald André Dupont’s Variété (1925; Variety), and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).