Week 5: German Expressionism
German post-WWI culture
-romantic obsession with mythic past
-determinist culture: the fate of human beings is pre-determined
-predetermined by what?
-social forces (in which case, fight for social change)
-metaphysical forces (harsh universe, human nature, Fate)
-nihilism, obsession with tragedy and despair
-German obsession with doom and "Gotterdamerung"
-cultural pessimism (lost mythic past)
express "the morbid psychological state of the protagonist in terms of visual images"
Reaction against realism and naturalism (which emphasize objective, external reality)
parallel movements in painting, music, theatre
Q: what kind of subjective world is expressed?
obsession with morbidity, death
disturbed mental states
"soul in search of itself"--psychological and metaphysical
strong link between sex/creation and death/destruction
influence of Freud’s idea of the unconscious)
"deep and fearful concern with the foundations of the self."
Q: how was it achieved on screen?
stylized, artificial, unnatural diegetic world
high contrast lighting (chiaroscuro)
emphasis on mood "Stimmung,": emotion over story
studio filmmaking: CONTROL over light and setting
the creation of a world, not discovering one in reality.
-Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)(dir. Robert We