Monday, September 23, 2013

History of Film Part III

1927 - Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, is released. This film was made in the time of German Expressionism. Lang, half Jewish, fled Germany after the German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (depicted in Tarentino's Inglorious Basterds) asks him to lead the German propaganda studio UFA. His career greatly contributed to the history of cinema by creating conventions that led to film-nior. Consequently, Metropolis was Hitler's favorite film.

German Expressionism Narrative Elements:

  • žStories centered around dreams, the supernatural or the fantastic 
  • Large number of plots involve selling or losing soul, giving in to darker nature (personified by doppelganger figure), or making deal with the devil
  • žEmphasis on psychological horror 
  • Preoccupation with loss of sanity and/or loss of self

German Expressionism Stylistic Elements:

  • Highly stylized mise-en-scène used to reflect characters’ inner mental states as well as to create mood
  • Use of chiaroscuro lighting; emphasis on contrast between light and shadow for expressive purposes
  • Use of framing and optical effects for expressive purposes


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