German Expressionism (c. 1913 -1933)[edit | edit source]
The German Expressionist movement was a cultural movement that began in the early 1910s, and had a profound impact on the German film industry. It is characterized by the use of highly stylized sets, exaggerated lighting and shadows, and distorted and exaggerated performances. These techniques were used to create an otherworldly, dreamlike atmosphere that conveyed the anxieties and fears of the era.
One of the key features of Expressionist films was their strong visual style. Filmmakers used expressionistic techniques to create a sense of unease, such as twisted and distorted sets and architecture, and chiaroscuro lighting that created deep shadows and contrasts. The use of stylized sets and lighting helped to create a sense of unreality that was meant to reflect the inner turmoil and anxieties of the characters and society.
Themes of fear, guilt, and the human psyche were also a common feature of Expressionist films. Many films dealt with the social and political upheaval that Germany experienced after World War I, as well as the anxieties and fears that arose from the war and its aftermath. This is why films like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920) and "Nosferatu" (1922) are considered classic examples of Expressionist films as they used these techniques and themes to create a sense of unease, isolation, and dread.
Expressionism was also a way for artist and intellectuals to express their feeling and ideas about the society and political condition of their country. The movement was made up of filmmakers who wanted to use the medium of cinema to showcase social issues of the time. Some of the key figures of the movement include Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Paul Wegener, and G.W. Pabst.
However, the Expressionist movement was also suppressed and banned by the Nazi regime during the 1930s, as the regime viewed it as a form of "degenerate art" that was un-German and Jewish in nature. Many of its leading figures, including Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, and Paul Wegener, fled the country, and the movement ultimately came to an end with the rise of Nazism in Germany. Despite this, the influence of the Expressionist movement can still be seen in the films of today, particularly in the horror and fantasy genres. Many filmmakers, such as Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch have acknowledged the debt their own work owes to the Expressionist movement.