Without it, the French Cinémathèque would not be the global memory of the seventh art that it has become. Yet who knows Lotte Eisner? This film by Timon Koulmasis pays him a well-deserved tribute. Born in 1896 in Berlin, she died in Paris in 1983, at the age of 87. Fleeing the Nazi regime, she left her native Germany on the day of Hitler’s accession to the chair of Chancellor of the Reich. Shortly before, the Fuhrer had invited her for tea, an offer she declined. Then, later, she regretted refusing, explaining maliciously: “I should have gone with a little vial of poison. “
Victim of the Vél ‘d’Hiv roundup in 1940, she took refuge in the Lot department, was imprisoned in Gurs, near Pau, but escaped being transferred to the death camps and could resume under a false identity his activity at the Cinémathèque, which had started a few years earlier. She meets Henri Langlois, co-founder of the Cinémathèque, “A tall, thin and shy young man”, in 1933. “With Georges Franju they saved silent films from destruction, and that interested me for the newspaper which employed me then. “ Lotte Eisner becomes a drama critic and then cinema critic.
At the Liberation, she was chief curator of the Cinémathèque française, which owes her in particular to having defended the acquisition of multiple pieces which today make up the wealth of her museum. But Lotte Eisner is at the same time a specialist in German cinema, and his first book, the Demonic Screen, on German expressionism, has long been an authority. Henri Langlois, who said “I am not a collector, but a man who wants to save films to show them”, has always supported this faithful friend. Filmmaker Wim Wenders recounts: “It allowed us to understand that cinema is an asset that should be preserved. ”