Premium Essay

German Expressionism


Submitted By lilwreckage117
Words 1067
Pages 5
Art House: An Introduction to German Expressionist Films
Alissa Darsa, Thursday, December 26, 2013

Robert Wiene, Stills for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (three works) (1919). Gelatin silver print, sold at Christie's New York.
Welcome to the first article in Art House, a series detailing the evolution of art house films, and their impact on the relationship between art and cinema. The term art house refers to films that are artistic or experimental in nature, and are generally not part of the commercial mainstream. It is interesting to note that unlike many other forms of avant-garde, filmic avant-garde does not typically generate the profits earned by its musical, visual, and literary counterparts. Most artists who have produced avant-garde films have had to rely on other artistic media as a source of income, including Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987).1 However, there are several films that have crossed over into the realm of mainstream cinema, and have been both financially successful as well as stylistically influential. This article focuses on German Expressionism, one of the earliest artistic genres to influence filmmaking, and one that arguably paved the way for many other avant-garde styles and techniques.

Walter Reimann & Hermann Warm, Le docteur à la foire (from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1919). Sold at Binoche Renaud-Giquello & Associés.
German Expressionism is an artistic genre that originated in Europe in the 1920s, and is broadly defined as the rejection of Western conventions, and the depiction of reality that is widely distorted for emotional effect. Heavily influenced by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and El Greco, Expressionists were less concerned with producing aesthetically pleasing compositions as they were with creating powerful reactions to their work through the use of bright, clashing colors,

Similar Documents

Free Essay

German Expressionism

...German Expressionism ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ is a film from the 1920’s and was the most influential and significant film that belongs to the German expressionism film movement. German Expressionism, as it name shows, highlights the expressions of the internal opinions, beliefs, and feelings via the use of artistic, stylistic materials and fundamentals. It had a main goal to advance life, especially, change. Therefore, it may be considered an evolution revealing German civilization through these times of alteration or change. Due to the loss of the German’s in WWI and its consequences, the movement’s plot was about madness, insanity, and poverty. It’s not just a story telling but it had communal, civilizing, and political features. Expressionist first film was ‘The Student of Prague’ (1913), then comes the first vampire movie in 1916 ‘ Nache des Gravens’ (Night of Horror), ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ in 1920, and ‘The Golen’ (how we came into the world)… All these films have their special style, the style that specialize the German Expressionism movement. It’s characterized by relying heavily on the story and design, mise-en-scene, with the weird ambiance and work of art but lightly on editing. According to the shooting, the camera moves slightly with unpredictable camera’s position. As for the illumination, we see harsh distinction of light and shadows for diverse effects, known for Chiaroscuro lightning, symbolizing the occurrence of gloomy phases in human beings...

Words: 452 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Nosferatu and German Expressionism

...Nosferatu and German Expressionism Expressionism itself was an artistic movement that occurred in Europe in the early nineteen hundreds. The movement is said to have started around “1908 as a style of painting and the theatre”. The movement spread across Europe but Germany was considered the epicenter of Expressionism, where it was said to be more intense than any other nation in Europe. The Expressionist style was essentially a rejection of realism. In painting, artists would not use the clever shading techniques, for example, to make the subject look real, like painters at the time had been doing for so long. They might use brighter or darker colors and make people look distorted and often creepy and grotesque. “In late February 1920, a film premiered in Berlin that was instantly recognized as something new in cinema: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. Although Dr. Caligari, directed by Robert Wiene, was considered the first Expressionist film and would spark a massive movement in the film industry, it did not come as much of a shock to a lot of film critics since the movement was already so prevalent in other art forms. Nonetheless, many more film makers followed suit in making movies that featured the Expressionist style. One such movie was Nosferatu. Made in 1922 and directed by F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu was for all intents and purposes a horror film. The protagonist, Hutter, who works for a real estate company, is sent to the mysterious estate of a potentially huge...

Words: 1695 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

American Impressionism Vs German Expressionism

...Art in the early 20th century was all about escaping from the harsh realities that were present during and after World War I. As citizens were experiencing an array of emotions, they turned to different forms of artistic expression to help cope with their anxieties and worries. Out of this arose the German Expressionist movement and the Surrealist movement, both deriving out of the European areas of the world. Through this, filmakers such as the German Robery Wiene and the Spanish Luis Bunel and Salvador Dali created their respective films The Cabinet Of Dr. Calagari and Un Chien Andalou. Simultaneously, Sigmund Freud, an Austrian physician was developing a theory of psychoanalysis that focused how the human unconscious can manifest itself...

Words: 602 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Tim Burton Use German Expressionism In Edward Scissorhands

...In the film Edward Scissorhands by Tim Burton German expressionism is seen throughout the movie in a variety of different techniques. German expressionism is used to help us understands the different characters emotional and psychological states. Exaggeration is shown throughout the film when Edward is using his hands to mold the ice sculptures, cut the bushes, and give the other characters haircuts. While watching the film you wonder how Edward is moving that fast, Tim Burton is using exaggeration to make viewers believe edward is actually moving this fast, keeping the viewers invested in the film. One of the most interesting scenes using this technique is when Edward first reveals he can use his scissorhands this way, he begins cutting the...

Words: 368 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

German Expressionism

...Assess the usefulness of Positivist Research. Positivism refers to the application of scientific methods and logic in the study of society and the social world. Positivists believe that human behaviour can be studied in order to find Laws of Human Behaviour, which could then be used to predict the behaviour of people within society. Positivist research tends to make use of quantitative methods in order to derive data- data which can then be sorted and stratified in order to identify trends, and from these trends, derive possible meanings. In order to assess the usefulness of Positivist Research, one will need to explore both the advantages and shortcomings of Positivists Methodology, and compare it in relation to other methods such as interpretivist methodology as well as realism and triangulation. Positivist Research can be said to be useful as it has a wide sample size and greater validity with regards to representation and repeatability. This means that information gathered using Positivist research is comparatively more representative of society than information gathered from other research methods, including interpretivist research which lacks a sufficiently large sample size and is generally unrepresentative of society. Positivist research as well as the quantitative methods associated with them also limits the extent to which researchers are involved with the research subject, hence reducing the possibility of imposition upon the subjects, or the occurrence of...

Words: 396 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

“There Are Significant Stylistic Variations Within International Film Styles.” How Far Have You Found This to Be True in the Films You Have Studied for This Topic?

...“There are significant stylistic variations within international film styles.” How far have you found this to be true in the films you have studied for this topic? There are significant stylistic variations within the German Expressionist films, ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Metropolis’. German Expressionism is the term used to describe the creative arts and film movements that were happening post war, in the early 1920’s. They are associated with themes of death, depression, darkness, insanity and distortion, which depict the state of the country and its civilians following the devastation of the war. German Expressionist films are significant to the history of the film industry as they have been filmed using distinctive methods and style techniques, which have influenced modern day film makers such as Tim Burton. One of the most significant stylistic variations that can be found within German Expressionist films is the considerable use of mise-en-scene. ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, directed by Robert Wiene, was filmed against painted sets and backdrops. Due to the lack of funding in the film industry at the time, some films were shot entirely on backdrops like the ones seen in this film. The importance of this is that the sharp angles and distorted buildings look highly unrealistic, which reflects upon the madness and insanity of the main character Francis. As he is the narrator of the film, we are being told and shown the story through his mind, therefore...

Words: 2391 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Tim Burton

...identifiable film style. The characteristics that are similar across these films are the flashbacks, the actors and actresses, the characters, the use of costume, makeup and lighting. Similarities can also be seen through the themes and genres including, German Expression and fantasy. Burton incorporates characters in his films that no one would encounter in real life, such as you would never find a ghost who wants to marry a human in real life or someone who is able to chop hedges with his scissorhands. His films are characteristically quirky and unusual, however somehow making it relatable and identifiable which make them so popular with the audience. One style that Tim Burton’s films are strongly influenced is the German Expressionism codes and conventions. This foreign film style is an artistic genre that originated in Europe in the 1920s and is broadly defined as the rejection of Western conventions (Darsa, 2013). The artist’s impression of reality is widely distorted for emotional effect. The elements of this particular film style may involve lighting that employs extreme contrasts of light and dark therefore making dramatic shadows in the film. The film style also concentrates on mirrors, glass and other reflective surfaces. German Expressionist film also gave human characteristics and human behaviour to nonhuman objects. Distorted...

Words: 1199 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Music and Film

...Silent Film Era Chapters 6 - 8 Silent Film Era 1895-1927 ! Principal Questions ! ! ! ! Where were films shown? Who played the music? What music did they play? Who created the music? ! Some major silent films Theaters ! Films were first viewed as part of other shows, often vaudeville shows ! Nickelodeons began to appear in 1905 ! By 1908, over 5,000 established in US ! After 1913, building of Movie Palaces ! Roxy theater, built in 1927, seats 6,214! The Music ! Who chose the music? ! Generally the theater music director ! Original scores rare until the 1920s ! What type of music was played? ! Adaptations of Classics ! Arrangements of tunes ! Newly composed Who Played the Music? ! Nickelodeon - pianist ! Organs became dominant instrument: Wurlitzer ! Gradual growth ! Small number (chamber group) ! Small orchestra (13 or 14) ! Full orchestra (50 - 100) The Birth of a Nation ! Director: D.W. Griffith ! Composer: Joseph Carl Breil ! First masterpiece in film ! ! ! ! Noted for length Exploration of cinematography techniques Brilliant use of film to further the plot Film score created specifically for this film ! Flaw: racist The Big Parade Music for Birth of a Nation » One of the best American silent films » The biggest box-office hit of the 1920s » Much is playful and romantic, increasing the horror of realistic battle scenes ! Uses all three types ! Adaptations ! Arrangements ! New ! Best remembered...

Words: 371 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari

...what they stand for by contrast in colors. Also, the framing gives great context as to where Cesare is. Even though he is the main focus, we are also meant to focus on Jane since she takes over the lower portion of the frame. Also, I’d say the angle is at eye level. It is almost as if we are there. Wiene does a great job just by keeping it stationary. Consequently, the shot choice is simple. The scene is a long shot. We are able to fully see Cesare while also focusing on Jane and her bedroom. However, this does not mean that it is not important. The shot choice is crucial because we can see Cesare’s body language and his change when he finally sees Jane. When I mentioned contrast, this is where I think Wiene gives emphasis to the German Expressionism idea of the darkness taking over. In the same way, the editing is driven by Cesare’s behavior. There is a tension and buildup to Jane being abducted. Cesare taking his sweet time towards Jane makes it feel as though time was standing still. Wiene furthers the eccentricity, creepiness, and darkness of the film by just keeping his creativeness...

Words: 1024 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Meowzy Dung

...influence in the mise-en-scène. In the academic realm, the term mise-en-scène is always invoked when the overall look and feel of a movie is under discussion. Students taking Film Analysis should be quite familiar with the term. Even though many professionals are involved in its creation, the director is the one that oversees the entire mise-en-scène and all of its elements. Not just that, but during the early stages of pre-production, the director or his AD sits down with set designers, prop masters, location managers, costume designers, and scenic artists to determine the look and feel intended. In some instances, the mise-en- scène is used to evoke lasting feelings throughout the movie and not just for selected scenes. In the German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), distorted shapes and claustrophobic scenery is implemented to disturb the audience and enhance the horror. Mike Nichols’ The Graduate (1967) has been praised by its amazing, exciting, and multi-layered visual...

Words: 479 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay


...For years people have been scared by horror movies and they continue going back. Alfred Hitchcock once said, "drama is life with the dull bits left out." Why do people like to watch other people get hurt and die while being scared enough to make them jerk in their seat? Movie goers like horror movies because people in general have dull lives. Males just use it as a opportunity to get close to their partner, while females like to get scared while in the presence of their "man." Every day people simply get up, go to work, and come home for supper before going back to bed. People believe that their lives are boring. That is why horror movies are popular. Movie goers like to be able to see blood, guts, fingers and toes, while having the ability to simply walk away. People in general want to have suspense in their lives but want to be able to turn it off. As for men, they like to be frightened as well as women, but most of all men like the sex appeal of horror movies. Almost every horror movie made in the last 20 years has a young attractive female actor running around mindlessly. If men were not attracted to this, then producers obviously wouldn't make movies this way. Men would also rather take their partner with them to see these kinds of movies. Men know their "female friend" will want to cuddle up! Women on the other hand want to have the fear factor but want their partner to be by their side. Most women movie goers will NOT watch a horror film alone. They want to...

Words: 415 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

German Expressionist Movement

...German Expressionist Movement Film presents the physical word on screen as a projection, or expression of the subjective world, usually that of the films protagonist using: * Distorted and exaggerated settings * Composition of unnatural spaces * The use of oblique angles and non-parallel lines * Moving and subjective cameras * Unnatural costumes and make-up * Stylised acting * Visuals and narrative around darkness * Stylised visuals showing an awareness of art and design * Atmospheric lightning * Harsh contrast light between light and dark * Shadows * Low key lightning used to convey mystery * Monsters lurking in shadows * Distortion employed through make-up, camera angles, costumes and background. Questions: 1. All above. 2. Often sombre in mood and featuring characters from a corrupt underworld of crime the films dramatic effects produce motifs of claustrophobia and paranoia. 3. Style of German expressionism is ideal for portraying macabre subject matters such as: * Low key lightning - used to convey mystery * Monsters lurking in the shadow. Distortion also commonly used in both expressionism and alter horror film employed through make up, camera angles, costumes and strange backdrops. 4. Lang's late expressionist classic M (1931), he uses techniques that exaggerate reality and provide visual clues for the audience as to the psychology of the characters. M is about a horrific child killer. Lang emphasizes...

Words: 295 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Screening Review

...faces of the actors made this film seem like you were actually there witnessing it in person. With the zoom up on faces, I could really understand how the actors were feeling. Also, with the way that Dryer would move the camera around and go back and forth between the actors made more of a suspenseful feeling. The German Expressionism was harder for me to completely see. I did notice the misshaped windows but that is all I really noticed because it was so rarely shown throughout the film. However, I did like how Dryer used mise-en-scene to depict how the younger good looking priests were the nicer ones and how the older ugly priests were the mean and fowl ones. The montage in this film picked up a lot towards the end of this film. In the beginning it seemed very slow and boring because the film only occurred in the court room. Once Joan was sentenced to death by burning at the stake, that’s when the camera began to move around a lot more. People were rioting and the camera kept moving from riot scene to riot scene and back to Joan burning at the stake. This reflected both French Impressionism, because there were close ups on faces, and German Expressionism, because the scene in the background reflected on the chaos going on around. I enjoyed this silent film because I never would have thought that a silent film could be this powerful in expressing feelings. Dryer really made me feel like I was actually witnessing this in person. Being a Catholic, I knew the story of Joan...

Words: 363 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari Essay

...opinions of the German people during the early Weimar Republic. Sociologists, such as Siegfried Kracauer, have praised this film for its artistic form and political message. The expressionist stylings of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari are both immediate and abundant throughout the film. Gothic themes enter the storyline within the first scene when a man is observing the movements of the spirit of his fiancee. Title cards with disorderly designs narrate much...

Words: 758 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Caligari Film

...【UNDERSTANDING MOVIES】Mise en Scene in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 2:33PM / Standard Entry The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of the first and major examples of the German Expressionism film movement, which features a dark and twisted style of film making.  The plots and stories of the Expressionist movement films often deal with madness, insanity, betrayal, and other sinister topics. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is known for its particular and unusual settings. All the scenes are distorted and the objects in them changed in odd ways. For example, a normal window has an abnormal shape. Lines and other shapes are not regular even though the viewer can still understand what they are.  Moreover, the lighting including the shadowing is drawn on the background screen directly, which makes the picture look unnatural.  The subtitles and its background are also odd and bent.   All of these techniques were used to make people recognize everyday objects but understand that it is part of the characters’ imaginations (or the director’s imagination).   The director is leading people into his imagination, buried in the mazy town, fragmented frame, the twisted mirror, sloping walls, lopsided doors, the rough road, exaggerated tree branches, etc. One interesting note is the scenes where Alan, who seems the most “normal” of all the characters, is introduced.  He is in a room with a chair that looks normal—it has straight lines and is the right size.  But he looks out...

Words: 874 - Pages: 4