The Impact of German Expressionist Films upon the Modern Film Industry By Blayne Ferreira. The Origins of Expressionism.
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UFA produced many German Expressionist
films which were destined to become classics.
This scene demonstrates the effect created through the Expressionist technique of using angular structures to help represent a disjointed mood and a nightmarish atmosphere.
Cesare’s movements were stiff and robotic. His makeup was excessive and overdone. Some of the shadows in this scene were created by wall paintings to enhance contrast between light and dark.
Director, Robert Weine, was
praised for his effective use
of expressionist technique and for
his set designs
True to expressionist
form, the plot of
“The Cabinet of
Designed by the Expressionist
the films’ sets were contorted and artificial.
The distorted designs
to develop the atmosphere
directed by F. W.
became a vampire
and the use of
with the film “Nosferatu”.
In some Expressionist
films, silhouettes were
used in place of shadow.
directed by Fritz Lang,
to depict a futuristic
In keeping with
in the unnatural
Form of machines.
Lang accentuated the
dark mood of the film
by including lighting practices
in Germany, other notable directors included
Paul Wegener, Karl Heinz Martin, Leon
Brinsky and George Wilhelm Pabst.
Hitchcock employed the use of shadow and light. He directed his actors to over-exaggerate their facial movements to better emphasize their inner emotions in “The Lodger”.
The exploitation of light and shadow assisted in
expressing this film’s interwoven themes of guilt
In addition to traditional Expressionist elements, Hitchcock engaged the use of whirling camera movements to create a dizzy and disorienting effect for his audience. In contrast to his earlier films, “The Wrong Man” was based
upon a true story.
Hitchcock relied heavily
use of shadows and
in the movie “Psycho”.
He also represented the dark
emotionality of Norman
Bates by maintaining a bleak
environment and contrasting
light and darkness
throughout the film.
In his movie, “The Birds”, Hitchcock manipulated sound as was
done in the early German silent films. The sound effects contributed to the
to the turmoil in the movie and added to the chaotic atmosphere.
Hitchcock’s use of color in “Marnie” provoked and conveyed a frenzy of emotion. His use of artificial backgrounds and highly stylized sets reflected the influence of Expressionism.
Similar to the earlier Expressionist film, “Metropolis”,
“Bladerunner” portrayed a futuristic city as bleak and dark.
Ridley Scott contrasted light and dark and used straight
angles and silhouettes. Images in the movie were reminiscent of “Nosferatu”.
The painted backdrops used in “Beetlejuice” mimic those seen in “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”.
Gotham city resembled
a dream or nightmare-
like landscape. A variety
of architectural styles
were borrowed from in
the creation of the city.
Critics have compared the likeness of Weine’s
“Cesare” to Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands”.