A Letter Without Words (1998)

Genres - Culture & Society, History  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Politics & Government, Social History, Interpersonal Relationships, Race & Ethnicity  |   Run Time - 62 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Documentary filmmaker Lisa Lewenz took 1914-1938 footage shot by her wealthy grandmother to present this portrait of Germany between the wars. Ella Lewenz (1883-1954), daughter of a Jewish banker, acquired a home-movie camera just before WW I, eventually filming Einstein, Gropius, and Metropolis (1926) actress Brigitte Helm. In addition to travel scenes shot in Egypt, the Alps, and Venice, Ella documented the rise of Nazi Germany, including her next-door neighbor Joseph Goebbels, and she used 16mm color film to capture Berlin covered by red Nazi flags. Episcopalian Lisa Lewenz (unaware of her Jewish roots until age 13) discovered her grandmother's films in 1981, shot new footage in some of the same locations, researched roots, located additional material in Ella's diary, and even employed a lip-reader to bring dialogue alive for this unique look into the past. Shown at 1998 festivals (Sundance, Berlin).



Germany, grandmother, Judaism, Nazism, world-war