Kracauer’s rehabilitation in the 1990s sidelined his Marxist framework of the middle-to-late Weimar era in favour of the then still dominant if decaying paradigms of poststructuralism and postmodernism. It was also silent on the relationship between Kant and Marxism in Kracauer’s work. This essay addresses these weaknesses by arguing that Kracauer transcoded the structure of Kant’s ‘problematic’ around reification into a Marxist framework in the middle-to-late Weimar period. The essay considers how Kracauer conceived the mass ornament (photography and film especially) as a site of reification and critical pedagogy. It explores his strategies of de-reification and their overlap with Walter Benjamin and the ruptures and continuities between the radical Weimar work and his later Theory of Film. The essay argues that the Theory of Film can be better understood as a transcoding of Kant’s philosophy of the aesthetic in the third Critique into the film camera itself, although the Marxian framework of the Weimar period is now considerably attenuated.