A Sociology of the Cinema

Source: Emilie Altenloh, Zur Soziologie des Kino: Die Kino-Unternehmung und die Sozialen Schichten Ihrer Besucher, translated in part (by Kathleen Cross) as ‘A Sociology of the Cinema: the Audience’, Screen, vol. 42 no. 3, Autumn 2001, p.267

Text: Do you go to the theatre, public lectures, concerts, variety shows?
I go to almost everything. On Mondays I go to the cinema, Tuesday I stay at home, Wednesday I go to the theatre. Fridays I have gymnastics at 9.30 pm and Sundays I go walking in the woods with my girlfriend from next-door.

What do you enjoy best?
I particularly enjoy Mozart’s music, Richard Wagner’s dramas and Schiller’s dramas in the court theatre and national theatre on Sundays.

Do you go to the cinema? How often? On your own or with others?
Cinema now and then, but not on my own.

When do you usually go to the cinema (day of week, time of day)?
On weekdays between 8 30 and 11 pm.

What kinds of film do you like best?
Love dramas, stones about trappers and Red Indians, current news from around the world and films about aviation and airship travel.

What have been your favourites?
Das Leben im Paradies/Life in Paradise, Fremde Schuld/Strange Guilt, Die keusche Susanna/Chaste Susanna and Moderne Eva/Modern Eve, all four-acters.

Which cinema do you like best? Why?
The Saalbau, it’s dark, with a nice programme.

Comments: Emilie-Kiep Altenloh (1888-1985) was a German politician and economist with strong social welfare interests. Over 1912/13 she conducted a study of cinemagoers in Mannheim, Germany, part of which involved a questionnaire sent to 2,400 cinemagoers in Mannheim asking about their gender, age, social standing, marital status, employment, religious persuasion, politics and filmgoing habits. Altenhoh’s methodology and conclusions continue to be of great interest to cinema historians. Her published study is in two parts, covering production and audiences. It reproduces little from the completed questionnaires: this submission from a fifteen-year-old machine-fitter is an exception. The favourite films mentioned appear to be, in order: unknown, Um fremde Schuld – Eine Episode aus dem Leben (Germany 1912), Die keusche Susanna (Germany 1911 – a one-reel synchronised sound film of the Jean Gilbert operetta, not a four-part film), and unknown, but presumably derived from the 1912 operetta Die moderne Eva by Victor Holländer and Jean Gilbert.

Links: Complete German text
English translation of Audiences section

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