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German Expressionism, 1920-1927: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Lecture 6. German National Film Context: 1913-1919. 1916 ban on film imports Boom in national wartime production 1913: 30 production companies 1919: 250 production companies

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german national film context 1913 1919
German National Film Context: 1913-1919
  • 1916 ban on film imports
  • Boom in national wartime production
    • 1913: 30 production companies
    • 1919: 250 production companies
  • 1917: Universum Film A.G. (or Ufa) formed with 1/3 of funding provided by the state.
    • 1918—Ufa privatized (purchased by Deutsches Bank)
  • 1920: Reich Film Act
expressionism
Expressionism
  • Pre-cursors: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch
  • Rejection of realism
  • Two phases:
    • Pre-war artists: 1905-1915
      • Developed by two groups
        • Die Brucke “The Bridge” (1906)
          • Ernst Kirchner
          • Erich Heckel
      • DerBlaue Reiter “The Blue Rider” (1911)
          • Franz Marc
          • Wassili Kandinsky
    • Post-war, second generation artists: 1915-1925
      • More politicized
      • Deeply affected by war-time experience
      • Associated with “Der Sturm” (The Storm) magazine
slide4

We start from the idea that the artist, beyond impressions which he receives from the exterior world, from nature, continually accumulates experience in his inner world, and is in quest of artistic forms which must be liberated from all irrelevant elements, so as to express only the necessary… (Kandinsky, 1909)

Wassili Kandinsky, “Winter” 1909

expressionism1
Expressionism
  • Interested in representing interiority
  • Expressionism eschews objectivity externalizes inner feelings in the mise-en-scene
    • Thus, it confuses the subjective and the objective
what is the mode of representation of expressionist film
What is the mode of representation of expressionist film?
  • *Innovates in the area of mise-en-scene (i.e. the pro-filmic)
    • Sets: artificial not natural
    • Costumes
    • Props
    • Acting
    • lighting
  • Enframed image/camerawork
    • Unobtrusive
    • Mobile camera (The Last Laugh)
    • Eye-level
    • Straight-on angle
  • Replaces the image of nature with art: substitutes for nature
  • Editing
    • Unobtrusive
    • Continuity
      • Shot/reverse shot
      • Cross-cutting
expressionist stylistics built sets
Expressionist Stylistics: Built sets

From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

slide8
Expressionist Stylistics: Graphic Qualities of the Shot/ Sets as actors/de-emphasis on the Human figure
expressionist stylistics lighting
Expressionist Stylistics: Lighting

From Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

context for the cabinet of dr caligari
Context for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Cabinet emerges from an industrial, commercial filmmaking context
  • Expressionism was in vogue at the time.
    • KasimirEdschmid in 1919: “[Expressionism] today affords titillation and edification to clergymen’s daughters and factory-owners’ wives… What once seemed a daring gesture has now become routine. The thrust forward of the day before yesterday has become the gimmick of yesterday and the big yawn of today.” (quoted in Robinson)
contemporaneous reception
Contemporaneous Reception
  • World premiere at the Marmorhaus in February 1920
  • German critics were universally enthusiastic
  • U.S. premiere: April 1921 at the Capitol Cinema in NYC