Looking back in 1920, at the end of what indeed was to remain the most productive decade of his career, Max Mack was convinced that future historians would acknowledge the significance of his films for the development of German cinema. By then he had directed nearly 100 films of all conceivable genres, among them some of the most successful and popular films the German cinema of the teens had produced. Ironically, however, when criticalor trade attention was paid to these films, it often happened without his name being mentioned at all. Mack’s DER ANDERE, the first Autorenfilm, based on a play by the then famous author Paul Lindau and bringing, with AlbertBassermann, onto the screen for the first time one of Germany’s most renowned stage actors, derived for most historians its lasting significance more from its cultural references to the literary and theatrical establishment than from any particular stylistic elements attributable to the director. [...]Paradoxically, it might have been the very notoriety of DER ANDERE for all subsequent retrospective histories of the German cinema which blanked out the name of its director and blocked off any closer attention given to the work of one of the most versatile, prolific but also enigmatic directors of the teens.
Max Mack himself has repeatedly defined his role as a ‘mediator between the author and the audience.’ According to Mack, the early teens were: “an epoch when each film was an experiment, and when there was no authority in power to tell what the public wanted; when the problem had to besolved of expressing intelligibly to a new audience a vision of a story interms of a language which was silent, and in pictures which were moving pictures, without having any examples of this kind in the past to point the way.” [Max Mack, With a Sigh and a Smile: A Showman Looks Back, London: Alliance Press, 1943, p. 35]
In solving this practical problem, the primary requirement of a film director consisted in an ‘optical sensibility’ that could convey narrative information by visual means such as framing and character movement.
[...] [T]he very professionalism with which Mack was able to bind together different textual authorities and cultural frames within one cinematic space, while clearly in tune with the sensibilities of contemporary audiences, spells out the logic that made him one of the German cinema’s most popular directors of the teens.
Michael Wedel, “Max Mack: The Invisible Author,” in Thomas Elsaesser (ed.), A Second Life. German Cinema’s First Decades, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1996,pp. 205-206, 212