"Women Make Better Diplomats", starring Marika Rökk, was the title of a costume movie made in 1941, that was hugely popular in Germany in the middle of the Second World War. But the real star of this shallow piece of trivia was not so much Frau Rökk as the newfangled Agfacolor process. For this film is generally acknowledged to be the first ever colour movie to be shown on the screens of German picture houses.
The Wolfen Museum of Industry and Film, which was once the second largest negative emotion picture factory in the world, has a lot of similar stories to tell and, before they know it, visitors will find themselves on a journey through the history of 20th century photo and film techniques. It begins with the building itself which was constructed in 1909 by the AGFA company and, from then on, used for a broad range of product's ranging from cinema and photo film to x-ray plates, small format film and film for aviation movies. In 1936 film workers in Wolfen produced the first viable mass-produced multilayer colour film in the world on one of the only extant processing machines, thereby ushering in the age of colour photography for everyone. The lucky combination of original machinery and an original site allows the Museum workers to give strikingly impressive demonstrations of production processes in a working atmosphere. White tiled rooms used for melting the emulsions, and long dark passageways for transporting the light-sensitive film material take visitors back into a world which seems light years away from the trivial movies featuring Marika Rökk and co.
From 1964 onwards Wolfen, which was now in East Germany, renamed its film products ORWO (short for Original Wolfen). But after Germany was reunited this technology was regarded as out of date, and was handed over to the Museum of Industry and Film which opened in 1993. An impressive collection of cameras document the many different uses of ORWO products. In addition there is a multimedia exhibition showing the development of the Bitterfeld-Wolfen region from an agricultural area to a centre for the chemical industries.