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Asphalt (1929 film)

Asphalt (1929 film)

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Asphalt is a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

. The film was one of the last silent films released in Germany as the world was entering the era of sound film
Sound film
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades would pass before sound motion pictures were made commercially...



Asphalt was made by UFA
Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945...

; a German studio, and produced by the Erich Pommer
Erich Pommer
Erich Pommer was a German-born film producer and executive. He was involved in the German Expressionist film movement during the silent era as the head of production at Decla, Decla-Bioscop and from 1924 to 1926 at Ufa responsible for many of the best known movies of the Weimar Republic such as...

 who was responsible for producing several films by directors including Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

's Der müde Tod
Der müde Tod
Destiny, or in the original German, Der müde Tod is a 1921 silent film directed in Germany by Fritz Lang. The German language title literally means Weary Death ; the film was originally released in the United States as Behind the Wall and in the United Kingdom as Destiny, the title under which...

(1921), Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler
Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler
Dr. Mabuse the Gambler is the first film in the Dr. Mabuse series, about the character Doctor Mabuse who featured in the novels of Norbert Jacques. It was directed by Fritz Lang and released in 1922. The film is silent and filmed mostly 16 frames per second. It would be followed by The Testament...

(1922), Die Nibelungen
Die Nibelungen
Die Nibelungen is a series of two silent fantasy films created by Austrian director Fritz Lang in 1924: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge....

(1924), Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

(1927), and Spione
Spione is a German silent espionage thriller written and directed by Fritz Lang in 1928. Lang's wife, Thea von Harbou, worked as a co-writer. The film was Lang's penultimate silent film, and the first for his own production company; Fritz Lang-film GmbH. As in Lang's Mabuse films, such as Dr...

(1928), F. W. Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924), Faust
Faust (1926 film)
Faust is a silent film produced in 1926 by UFA, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother, Wilhelm Dieterle as her brother and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwerdtlein, her aunt...

(1926), Tartüff (1927), and other popular films of the era including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. This movie is cited as...

(1920) and Varieté
Variety is a 1925 silent drama film directed by Ewald Andre Dupont based on the novel Der Eid des Stephan Huller by . Jannings portrays "Boss Huller," an ex-trapeze artist who runs a seedy carnival with his wife and child...


Director Joe May co-wrote the script. The sets were designed by Erich Kettelhut who also worked on Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, Metropolis, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis is a 1927 German film directed by Walter Ruttmann, co-written by Carl Mayer and Karl Freund....

), with the uncredited assistance of Robert Herlth (Der müde Tod, Der letzte Mann, Tartüff, Faust) and Walter Röhrig (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Tartüff, Faust). The cinematographer was Günther Rittau
Günther Rittau
Günther Rittau was a German camera operator and film director.After study of science in Berlin, Rittau started his career in 1919 at the documentary-film department of Decla, later at Universum Film AG. He learned the job of camera operator "on the side". From 1924, he was active as a feature...

 (Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, Der blaue Engel
Der blaue Engel
The Blue Angel is a film directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1930, based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich...



Asphalt was premiered on March 11, 1929 at Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

's prestigious Ufa-Palast am Zoo. Critics noted the cheap, pulp-fiction nature of the plot but also praised May’s skill and cinematography
Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography...

 and editing.

External links

  • Essay on Asphalt at the Masters of Cinema
    Masters of Cinema
    The Masters of Cinema organization began as a website dedicated to the most well-regarded film directors in the world. Founded by a diverse international group of like-minded film enthusiasts: Jan Bielawski, a mathematician; Doug Cummings, a graphic artist and freelance critic; Trond Trondsen, a Ph.D...

  • Asphalt at Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

  • Bibliography