Introduced in 1937, the Arriflex 35 was unique for its time. This 35mm handheld motion picture camera featured a revolutionary spinning mirrored shutter and a parallax-free erect image viewfinder. The Arri 35 is a World War II vintage camera that was used originally by the German military during the war. Some early examples of this camera were captured by American troops and brought back to the US. After the war, in 1946, Arri introduced the next generation of this camera, the Arriflex 35 II. You can tell that this camera is an original Arri 35 by looking at the pull-down mechanism, the phenolic aperture plate, the turret, and the matte box support system. This example, serial #1166, has been serviced and is in good working condition. With special thanks to Jan Heugel at Arriflex in Munich, we have learned that our Arriflex 35 was originally sold to the Hungarian Ministry of Defense in November 1942. We are both interested, and a little terrified, to learn more of its history.
ARRI was founded by August Arnold and Robert Richter in Munich, Germany in 1917. Friends from school, Arnold and Richter already had some experience in the motion picture business, having worked as cameramen and lab technicians. They began their business by building a film copying machine using parts out of an old film projector they purchased secondhand. While sales of their machine were going well, both men continued their work in many aspects of the movie business, including as cinematographers, producers, and lighting technicians. In 1918, they worked on their first film with director Fred Stranz, a western called "Der Schwarze Jack" (or Black Jack).
By 1920 they were producing their own short films, and using the profits to improve their printers. In 1924, Arnold began designing their first motion picture camera, the KINARRI 35, as well as their first lighting equipment. This camera was completed by 1925 and Arnold sent it to Richter in the United States where he had gone to learn about the American film business. Their second camera, the TROPEN, which featured an adjustable rotary shutter, was produced during this time as well. In 1928, the KINARRI 16 was developed for an amateur filmmaking audience, along with a 2nd more advanced model that featured an internal spring wind mechanism. In 1934, with sound films now dominating the market, ARRI developed a portable sound camera, but patent issues prevented it from being sold commercially. Success came soon after though.
In 1937, the ARRIFLEX 35 was released, a revolutionary handheld spinning mirror reflex 35mm motion picture camera that featured a spinning mirrored shutter and a parallax-free erect image viewfinder. This design, which saw many innovations and updates after its introduction, was produced until 1978. The Arriflex 35 is a World War II vintage camera, and saw use by the German military during the war. Some early examples of the ARRI 35 were captured by American troops and brought back to the US. In 1946, ARRI introduced the next generation of this camera, the Arriflex 35 II. So influential was the Arriflex 35 series of cameras, that it was awarded an Academy Award of Merit in 1983 for "the concept and engineering of the first operational 35mm, hand-held, spinning mirror reflex, motion picture camera."