This film investigates the Lichtburg Cinema, designed by the architect Rudolf Fränkel. When the building was completed in 1929, the Lichtburg was soon regarded as one of the most important cinemas in Berlin. With over 2000 seats, vertical glass stripes on the façade and three mounted searchlights on top of the building, the Lichtburg confidently marked its place in the heart of Berlin Gesundbrunnen.

With the takeover of Hitler’s regime, Fränkel, who was Jewish, was forced to emigrate to Bucharest in 1933. The Lichtburg was subsequently “aryanized” and was bombed heavily during the final days of the war in 1945. After a brief reconstruction in 1947 it reopened as the Corso Theater and underwent a further redesign in 1961 by the architect M.A. Elser. Despite being a thriving success, the cinema became isolated from its East Berlin audience after the construction of the Berlin Wall and had to close in 1962. It was demolished in 1970.

The original state of the building is captured in only a few black-and-white photographs and film documents. Strongly influenced by the Art Nouveau architect Richard Riemerschmid, Fränkel’s Lichtburg was not entirely part of the “white” modernist agenda, as the original photographs might suggest. In fact, the architect had designed both the interior and exterior of the building using a complex range of colours and materials. This film and research project attempts to restore the Lichtburg’s original colour spectrum, using both classical preservation methods, and automated “deep learning” techniques.

A project by
Loránd Mittay

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Duration  15:20 min