You present the German studio Ufa as a drug-fueled carnival of innovation. How much of that is for real?
Some of it, maybe even most of it. When you read the histories, it really does sound like all of Weimar-era Berlin was a drug-fueled carnival of innovation (love that phrase.) After Germany lost World War I and the Kaiser was gone, the old ways were disappearing fast. The hyperinflation in 1923/24 got rid of lots of pre-war morals – apparently, cocaine was everywhere, and families pimped out their daughters to survive. After that, things never returned to normal. And I don’t know if it was a result of that, but the era truly had an amazing flowering of the arts, including film: Murnau, Dietrich, Brecht, Reinhardt, Klee, Gropius, Lubitsch, Dix, Weill, you know the names. As far as Fritz Lang goes, I’ve read that he was open to experimenting with whatever drugs were going around. My imagination did the rest.