To set the stage, I am sharing this 1927 silent film that provides a wonderful picture of the vibrant Weimar era Berlin that Ernst Collin lived in. Granted, there was also the period of civil war, hyper-inflation and depression, but it was a relatively good time with incredible energy in the arts... Think also Dada, Bauhaus, the arts of the book, music... The music of Kurt Weill is a great accompanyment - it certainly was for me as I worked on the larger post to follow.
The film was directed by Walter Ruttmann, and co-written by Carl Mayer and Karl Freund. It is an example of the city symphony film genre. A musical score for an orchestra to accompany the silent film was written by Edmund Meisel. As a "city symphony" film, it portrays the life of a city, mainly through visual impressions in a semi-documentary style, without the narrative content of more mainstream films, though the sequencing of events can imply a kind of loose theme or impression of the city's daily life.
In 2007, a restored version of the film was shown with the fully reconstructed original score by Edmund Meisel. The film was restored by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in cooperation with ARTE and with funding by the ZDF. The restored version is based on cellulose nitrate copy from the archives of the former Reichsfilmarchiv which was augmented by footage acquired from the Library of Congress. (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin:_Symphony_of_a_Metropolis)
The (greatly) revised story of Ernst Collin, both of them,will follow soon.