Decla Film (originally Deutsche Eclair) was a German film production and distribution company of the silent era. Formed in 1911 as the German subsidiary of the French company Eclair, it was taken into German ownership in 1915 during the First World War. Since the company was affiliated with Éclair of France, Decla is an abbreviation for Deutsche Eclair. The company was originally founded by Erich Pommer in 1916 as Decla-Film-Gesellschaft Holz & Co. The co-founder of the company is the Berlin film distributor, Fritz Holz, as referenced in the second part of the company's name. Decla kept this name even after Holz left the company. Under the leadership of Erich Pommer, Decla emerged as one of the leading German film companies of the early Weimar era. Assuming control of Meinert-Film, it appointed Rudolf Meinert to oversee production. At the small Weissensee Studios it produced the expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, directed by Robert Wiene.
Through Decla, Fritz Lang made his directorial debut with the silent film Halbblut in 1919 after initially being hired as a screenwriter by Pommer in 1918.
In April 1920, Decla merged with a rival company Bioscop Film and became known as Decla-Bioscop.
Bioscop had recently constructed a large, modern studio at Babelsberg in Potsdam, right outside of Berlin, and production was now concentrated there. Other Danish filmmakers such as Benjamin Christensen (Seine Frau, die Unbekannte, 1923) worked in this location as well. The following year (1923), Decla-Bioscop became a part of the UFA – Universum-Film AG. Under pressure from its creditors at the Deutsche Bank, the company was absorbed into the giant UFA concern which dominated German cinema in the interwar years. A rival, and higher offer, from National Film was rejected. Erich Pommer was appointed as head of production for the whole outfit.
Although Decla was now a part of UFA, the success its films had enjoyed led to the continued use of the brand name for releases for some time. As late as 1924 Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen, a big-budget prestige UFA production, was released as a Decla-Bioscop Film.
Significant members of Decla-Bioscop that continued to work through UFA include Fritz Lang, F.W Murnau, Ludwig Berger, Thea von Harbou, Karl Freund, Otto Hunte, Carl Mayer, and Hermann Warm. These creative teams assembled by Pommer helped pave the foundation for the future of Weimar cinema.
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