Maps & Charts
in full Universum Film-aktiengesellschaft, 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. In the post-World War I era, Ufa's films of the
macabre--e.g., The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) by Robert Wiene and Metropolis
(1927) by Fritz Lang; its realistic films based on the life of the common man--e.g.,
The Last Laugh (1924) by F.W. Murnau; and its dramas based on traditional
German legends were especially popular.
From 1925 to 1930 many German directors and actors went to the United States to
work in Hollywood, and, despite loans and cooperation from American companies, the
studio's financial stability weakened. In 1927 controlling stock was purchased by
Alfred Hugenberg, a conservative newspaper owner and future supporter of the dictator
Adolf Hitler. By 1938 the Nazi government had complete control of the German film
industry, and it used Ufa as a propaganda tool until the end of World War II, when the
government fell and the company ceased to exist. The studio itself, however, located in
Berlin, remains a production centre to this day.
"Ufa" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.