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The Movement Of German Expressionism Film Studies Essay

1743 words (7 pages) Essay in Film Studies

5/12/16 Film Studies Reference this

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German expressionism occurred during the attempt of a liberal democratic republic after the so called “March revolution” in 1848. The revolution lead to the Weimar republic until 1933 where the NSDAP rose in power and brought with it a totalitarian dictatorship. Although this is the nearest estimate to how it happened, the theory that many where unhappy during the Weimar republic since it was “democracy without democrats” is also supported.

German Expressionism is an artistic movement of the 1910s and 1920s that involved theatre, photography, painting, sculpture, and architecture and of course film. We will acclaim the German expressionist film time period from 1918 and 1930, at this time the aftermaths of world war one and the troubled Weimar republic overshadowed the films that were being made. The Weimar democracy had to face many difficulties such as: rampant inflation, strikes, street fighting, armed revolt, mass unemployment and political rivalry. This gave expressionism the perfect start to create an art based on the illusion of reality, and this since film is being watched as a sort of avoidance towards one’s own life. Making cinema be a medium of escapism, where reality is put on hold for an hour or two as the viewer sits in a darkened room and consumes the images projected onto the screen. This is why adventure films were the most popular in the beginnings. Considerably like in the classical Hollywood cinema also known as the golden age of Hollywood, era between roughly 1910 and 1960. Which the Films from Germany at that time, tried competing with. The style of German expressionism is what turned it to an influence in the end. The world of German expressionism is an artificial world a world of light and shadow, it created a unique Mise-en-scène German Expressionist films look different, but they have a lot in common with each other.

The directors created atmosphere by means of strange camera angles, lighting and contrasts between black and white. Shadows and silhouettes were frequently displayed; sometimes they were even painted on to the sets. The stories that were told in the German expressionist cinema were often dark and sombre, matching the visuals.

Crime, madness and paranoia were frequently addressed and the claustrophobic atmosphere created by the shadows and dark lighting served to heighten the drama… Many modern films such as Blade Runner, Batman demonstrate the influence of German expressionism. The style is ideal for portraying macabre subject matters. Devices such as low key lighting are used to convey mystery, and monsters lurking in shadows. Distortion is also commonly used in both expressionism and later horror films, employed through make-up, camera angles, costumes and strange backdrops But these aren’t the only attributes that German expressionist films hold. Broadly spoken the films welled together an entire film crew, and none of the films at that time can be left unaccredited of the entire crew, whereas nowadays a director gains the acknowledgements. Also, the desire of combining box-office success and artistic touch is rarely seen in today’s world, but was fundamental to Weimar film.

They include thematic negations like: Dream vs. reality, Blindness Vs. vision, Insanity vs. Sanity – Which symbolically reflected the political fears of society

From the perspective of style, Metropolisis an avant garde science fiction film. The mad scientist returns, this time to create a robot double of Maria, the heroine. The robot is able to break away from the control of its master and in the end the whole city is destroyed. A lot of films haven dissected its themes.

There can be no doubt that Metropolis is one of the greatest films ever made, regularly appearing on all-time-best lists. Considering when it was made, it is an extraordinary achievement and it has created lasting visual impressions on audiences since its release in 1927. But it is not only for its wealth of cinematic innovation that it is rightly hailed as a classic.

Its themes of social injustice, the relationship between man and machine and the growth of the industrial society have had a huge influence on the work of subsequent film-makers, especially those working in the field of science-fiction.

Thousands of slaves work on gigantic machines in a huge underground city. The rich live above ground, in an Eden-like garden paradise. One day Maria inadvertently escapes out of the underground city and with a few poor children reaches the luxury life of those above ground. The son of the all-powerful factory boss falls in love with her and follows her into the underworld, where he learns how miserably the proletariat has to live. The inventor, Rotwang, builds a robot, an artificial worker, who can make no mistake. He drags Maria into his laboratory and, with the help of electric energy succeeds in transferring her looks onto the robot. In doing this, he creates an “evil Maria”.

This figure is then sent to the workers to spur them to revolt. The underground city is flooded at the end – Lang presents this very vividly. The rising water threatens the children who have been left to fend for themselves by the rampaging workers. The evil Maria is burnt, the real Maria is abducted by Rotwang. Finally, a fight between Fredersen, the son of the boss, and Rotwang leads to the latter falling to his death. At the end the social classes are reconciled, life continues in a socio-political utopia, the machines are destroyed. The word Utopia, derives from greek literally meaning: Not-Place. An ideal state or community.

For the whole film Metropolis is locked inside a sealed frame; an inner world which purports to be an outside world. The monumentalism of this Lang film creates claustrophobia, but has left its tracks in countless science-fiction films, not least of which is Blade Runner

“I wanted to explore future germany” so Metropolis brings the audience into the year 2026. You can see Gothic skyscrapers,and the society in this city or state consists of two groups. On one hand the plannersand thinkers, who live an unbelievable comfortable life, and on the other hand the workers who live in the underground working hard to serve the privileged.

Johann ‘Joh’ Fredersen rules over Metropolis. In Blade Runner, these two groups are the humans and robots which are called the “replicants”. Dr. Eldon Tyrell built an empire, that without slaves would never work – like Johann Fredersen in Metropolis.

In Metropolis a monument is built which stands for the greatness of humanity and the creator of the world. This monument is very high, actually it reaches the stars. In Blade Runner you can also see this elevated lifestyle (for example Dr.Tyrell himself is living in one of these high-tech skyscrapers), but elsewhere it is not gleaming at all, it is dark and cold. The workers in Metropolis revolt and destroy the monument because of their overwhelming anger. In Blade Runner, Roy Batty leads a revolt of the replicants against their creator Dr.Tyrell. Finally Roy kills the doctor.

Blade Runner presents a dystopian Los Angeles in the year 2019 in which human beings were genetically manufactured (called the replicants). These replicants have to do all the hard and dangerous work. In Metropolis, the workers also live a poor live and have to work underground and under very dangerous conditions. A very interesting detail is that a robot is one of the main female characters in both of the movies. Maria (in Metropolis) has a duplicate robot of herself just as Rachael (in Blade Runner) is a robot that is modeled after Tyrell’s niece.

the tower of Babel amazed me, a hierarchical social status symbol in the form of the centered most highest building in town, when I was thinking about set-design “They were built from a variety of haunting images: Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks, the skyline of Hong Kong at night, the fiery industrial landscape of Tyneside and Teesside of My childhood, the French comic-book: Métal Hurlant [Heavy Metal], and, quite clearly, Metropolis” Both Metropolis and Blade Runner have similar set designs, because one thing influenced the other, when it comes to the architecture of the cities, being the tower of Babel. In Blade Runner the opening sequence is shot by a huge pan, this enables a threatening feeling, all the smoke and fire. It is a magnificent but also a very disturbing picture of the Tower of Babel, showing the headquarters of the humanoid “replicants” factory, where the dirty work for human beings is done. Based on Metropolis Jerry Siegel und Joe Shuster decided to name their base in the film Superman after the famous film. The architectural design of Tim Burtons Gotham City in Batman is strongly based on the art deco of Metropolis by using for example the tower of Babel thanks to Anton Fursts openly creative transformation.

“There is no doubt about it. People always try to find what makes you tick as a designer and I think in this respect there is no doubt that I was influenced by German expressionism or so later.”

Kenneth worked together with Kubrick to construct a metropolis like set-design set at futuristic standards for 2001: a space odyssey. The 1940s Hollywood film noir films were hugely influenced by German expressionism and many of the motifs and images can be seen in films such as The Big Sleep. Indeed, Fritz Lang even directed some films of this genre himself. But How did the Expressionism influence the film noir?

The opportunities offered by the booming Hollywood film industry and, later, the threat of growing Nazipower led to the emigration of many important film artists working in Germany who had either been directly involved in the Expressionist movement or studied with its practitioners Directorssuch as Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, and Michael Curtizbrought a dramatically shadowed lighting style and a psychologically expressive approach to visual composition, or MHYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_scène”ise-en-scène, with them to Hollywood, where they would make some of the most famous of classic noirs. Lang’s magnum opus, M-released in 1931, two years before his departure from Germany-is among the first major crime films of the sound erato join a characteristically “nourish” visual style with a noir-type plot, one in which the protagonistis a criminal (as are his most successful pursuers)

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