Biography of Max Goldmann Reinhardt (1873-1943)

Director of theatre and Austrian film, name Maximilian Goldman, born on September 9, 1873 in Baden (Austria) and died on October 30, 1943, in New York (United States).


The figure of Max Reinhardt represents an authentic myth in the world of theatre for their critical contributions to the artistic discipline. This scenic works creator have gone down in history for its enormous ability to create forms using light, contrary to the usual practice based on naturalism, impressionism and the shelter given to the revolutionary expressionist movement that later would give its main fruits in the cinematographic field. The play of light and shadows, screened by curtains, as well as a few imaginative decorations, served to create a continuous sense of movement that would express the internal tensions of the dramatic work. This violent contrast of the darkness and clarity would also enable the creation of a dense atmosphere, where the actors necessarily express through facial expressions and gestures of the body, rather than through the simple emphatic recitation of the text.

Drive and dynamic of many nearby theatrical experiments occasionally at the forefront, Max Reinhardt also had a capital influence in shaping the film Expressionism and in the theoretical teaching of future directors and performers as emblematic as Ernst Lubitsch, Friedrich w. Murnau, William Dieterle or Emil Jannings. Not content with this, the creator of performing institutions as prestigious as the Volksbühne in Berlin or the Theater in der Joseftadt of Vienna gave also jump to practice as a director at times. Thus, in 1913 he/she signed the diptych consisting of Die Insel der SCHR and Eine Venezianische Nacht, where actors such as Alfred Abel and Erika de Planque intervened and that above all intended to be a first approach to the filmmaking. Six years later, the adaptation of a fragment of Ricardo III, according to the work of William Shakespeare, starring Conrad Veidt, closed these incursions behind the scenes of Max the silent period.

However, his real contribution to the world of the cinema came with dreams of a night of summer (1935), co-directed with his disciple William Dieterle. After the rise to power of the nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, Max Reinhardt undertook a long exile by England, France and Italy which led eventually to the United States. Received as one of the most important creators in the history of the theater, the Warner put in their hands the possibility of adapting the famous work of Shakespeare, which Max Reinhardt had lead to United States scenarios in a show designed for 25,000 spectators outdoor. The gargantuan proportions of this initiative deserved a similar budget in its translation to the celluloid, as well as a deal to the height of such magnificence: Dick Powell, James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Mickey Rooney , or Kenneth Anger. Few times the Hollywood industry had put so much media in a debutante, by very famous who preceded him as the creator in other fields, and less in someone who had a primary feature of style of chiaroscuro and tenebrist aesthetics. But the truth is that Warner ordered one hundred dancers to embody the Sylphs of the forest, thousand specialists in different areas and two dishes of filming, and even patiently endured the first eight weeks of filming to take as a material balance completely useless for the projection. The end result was a four-hour film and media which for obvious problems of distribution had to be reduced by half. That economic failure has not been offset by the nomination to the Oscar in the category of best film, so that Max Reinhardt closed with the dream of a summer night your approach to cinema.

From 1930 to 1941 maintained however open a multipurpose performing arts (theatre, cinema and radio) school in Hollywood called The Max Reinhardt Workshop of Stage, Screen and Radio.


1913: Die Insel der SCHR; Eine Venezianische Nacht. 1914: das Mirakel. 1919: Ricardo III. 1935: The dream of a Midsummer night's (Co-Director).


EISNER, Lotte H.: screen demon, Chair: Madrid, 1996.

DUMONT, Hervé: William Dieterle, antifacismo and romantic commitment, Filmoteca Española / International Film Festival of San Sebastián: Madrid, 1994.

FÜHRICH-LEISLER, Edda-PROSSNITZ, Gisela: Max Reinhardt in Germany, Otto Muller Verlag: Salzburg, 1976.