Cin2190 – History and Aesthetics of Cinema – Lecture 3
• One of the first horror films
• Dr. Caligari
• German expressionism was meant to be shocking and creepy.
• German expressionism was meant to react against 19thcentury realism
• They wanted to show how our perception of reality was biased due to our emotions.
• Contrasts with the classic Hollywood text. It didn’t want to be a classical film.
Through its mise en scene
• German expressionism started around 1908 and aimed at challenging 19 thcentury
• Used distortions (of perceptions) to express extreme emotions (i.e. the tents at the
fair were crooked)
• Formal realism include all details. Very detailed reality. This is what German
expressionism didn’t want to do.
• Rejection of nuancesand subtle colors that usually give volume anddepth to realist
• Insteadvivid, little realist color (Green faces, intense expression)
• Dark outlines
• 1910 = wellknown, if not fashionable movement in Germany
• Prior to expressionism, German cinema = comedies, melodramas, detective films.
• After WWI, Germany was not the winner of the war and the country went through a
huge identity crisis and they tried to rebuild their national identity through culture
• Creation of UFA to compete with French, American, and Scandinavian film
• German expressionism was a means to create an original film style. The genre was
much more pessimistic after the war
• Rejection of film realism without resorting to fantastic stories a la Georges Melies
• Non Respect of basic perspective rules
• The student of Prague was the first expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
• Deformed perspectives
• Over-stretched shadows
• Non-realist acting inherited from expressionist theatre (actors would scream
gesticulate and follow choreographies) because they didn’t want conventional