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German Expressionism And Dark Romanticism


Notion of Progress
• Many artists show the heritage of dark romanticism by reviving the myths and exploiting discoveries about the dream. • Confront the man with his terrors and its contradictions: • The savagery and evil hidden in every human being, the risk of collective degeneration, frightening strangeness of everyday life revealed by the fantastic tales of Poe or Barbey d'Aurévilly. Full second industrial revolution resurfaces the hordes of witches, grinning skeletons, demons shapeless Satans lewd, magicians fatal ... reflecting a challenging and festive disenchantment with the present.

. foundations of artistic creation. and thus the 'spirit of dark romanticism. • Film captures Frankenstein. • The triumph of imagination over the reality principle. dreams and drunkenness.Dark Romanticism in Early 20th century • After the First World War. Faust and other masterpieces of dark romanticism that settle permanently in the collective imagination. the Surrealists rely on the unconscious.

and after the First World War.Dark Romanticism • The dark romanticism is not a style: • Western art feeds the concerns of a crisis by responding by force of imagination. the dark romanticism is reactivated by some Symbolists in the late nineteenth century. • Born at the time of the revolutionary turmoil in the late eighteenth century. inspired the surrealist revolution. . • In filmmaking: the Symbolists found in the fantasy genre their ideal mode of communication and knowledge: solitude. silence and darkness.

exploring the bottomless pit of his obsessions and secret desires. . • The thriller is a symptom. nostalgic revolutionary.The Thriller • Opening the forbidden door. the audience also falls itself. both licentious and superstitious. it is the constant threat of nothingness. free-thinker and frightened by his own audacity. which marks these stories with an indelible black. Over the night. the temptation of freedom and boundless eroticism.

teeming with snakes. Cleopatra. destructive and perverse when it goes into its secrets.The Femme Fatale: Historical Influences • The feminization of evil anti-hero: Medusa. it is the perfect medium of an art that wants to force the viewer to confront his / her obsessions. facing gaping and screaming. . the Sphinx or Salome share in the procession of Satan and other princes of evil • Medusa. Their poisonous beauty becomes an emblem of decadent symbolism. • Both victim and abuser. petrifies those who cross her eyes since she was raped by Poseidon victim and cursed by Aethena. femmes fatales appear to be allegories of the same concept: the one who thinks of Nature as a cruel strength. • As diverse as they are. the myth of the femme fatale obsesses artists end-of-century. or Eve. • Whether Salome.

The beautiful flatters our senses and satisfies our reason. an aesthetic category theorized by philosopher Edmund Burke.The Sublime and Edmund Burke • To capture the attention of the public by the thrill. while the sublime causes terror mingled with pleasure. . filmmakers also use the sublime.

or the degree to which we experienced it has been very low. The human mind is in a state of neither pain nor pleasure but of indifference. he argues that pain and pleasure in their most simple and natural manner of affecting. He argues that pain and pleasure do not depend upon each other. it could be that our senses have never experienced real pleasure. and do not depend on each other for their existence. are each of a positive nature. But for Burke. for example in eating. as they think pleasure occurs by the relief of pain. .Pain and Pleasure Many believe that pain arises necessarily from the removal of some pleasure. Burke suggests that when we experience pleasure.

/ Indulge the tribute of a grateful tear. never to be experienced again. / Regardful of the friendly dues I owe.Cessation of Pleasure Affects the Mind 1. We might call these ―melancholy perfections. forever dear. . Grief can be experienced in pleasurable views. it is also joy that we experience. ―Still in short intervals of pleasing woe. / I to the glorious dead.abruptly pleasure is broken off followed by an uneasy sense of disappointment 2. Indifference . repeating all the circumstances that attend it. a.‖ We see this in The Odyssey of Homer.‖ 3. When we escape an imminent danger. going back to every particular enjoyment. Grief: if pleasure is broken off. dwell upon each and find a thousand new perfections.

and they are the most powerful of all passions . Pain.not life and health. But life and health make no impression by the simple enjoyment. sickness and death fill the mind with strong emotions of horror. . operates in a manner analogous to terror is a source of the sublime. The ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Sublime: Excites the ideas of pain and danger.Burkean Concepts Self Preservation: Turn mostly on pain or danger. Society: The passions therefore which are conversant about the preservation of the individual turn chiefly on pain and danger. the strongest emotion.

. The passion of love is capable of producing extraordinary effects. This can give rise to madness if the individual breaks down every part of the mind that might lead them away from their obsession over loss. but at certain distances. it is the loss which is always uppermost in his mind. and with certain modifications. When for example a forsaken lover complains about loss it is over the pleasures that he had enjoyed. He goes on to explain the cause of this. but its extraordinary emotions have any connection with positive pain. they may be and they are delightful as we everyday experience. they are incapable of giving any delight and are simply terrible. or hoped to enjoy.Affects of Danger and Pain Burke makes this argument: When danger or pain press to nearly. the perfection of the object of his desires.

must approach near to the nature of what causes pain. . we gather up.Visual Objects Are Sublime ―Vision is performed by having a picture. . the matter will amount nearly to the same thing . . and consequently must produce an idea of the sublime. another. until it arrives at last to the highest degree. So it is usually one part of the entire object that brings about a certain effect on the passions. and another. and consequently the fine nerves and muscles destined to the motion of that part must be very much strained‖ . on the retina. instantaneously. one point only of an object is distinguishable at once. . . formed by the rays of light which are reflected from the object. or last nervous part of the eye . the eye must traverse the vast space of such bodies with great quickness. there is but one point of any object painted on the eye in such a manner as to be perceived at once. painted in one piece. the several parts of the object. . . and the whole capacity of the eye vibrating in all its parts. must in their progress cause a very great one. and another stroke. but by moving the eye. with great celerity. What is that part? ―though the image of one point should cause but a small tension of this membrane. so as to form one uniform piece‖ (Burke).

Expressionism • ―a movement designed to get away from actuality and to satisfy the desire to probe seemingly fundamental truths of human nature and society by presenting them through fantasy and dramatized mysticism‖ (Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel). .

• The setting of the film is social (the bedroom) and the agent of destruction is natural (the sun). • Why these changes? Does it reflect post war tensions? . The vampire is not ambushed and beheaded.From Novel to Film • The denoument is different in the film compared to the novel.

Historical Background • Between 1921 and 1922. a consequence of defeat in World War I. Germany suffered through economic instability. • Because there is not hope leading out of chaos. • Bolshevism exerts its influence in Germany. • Militant groups emerge as a result of riots. . • The new Germany is an experiment in democracy. Germans turn to anarchy and tyranny.

. • Results in a series of polarities: chaos / change / individual fights vs. These are realistic responses: fighting for change or submitting to authority. tyranny / no change / individual submits. Low in an atmosphere of chaos and tyranny.Freedom of Artistic Expression • High and low: High in a democracy.

Realistic and psychological – steeped in the traditional German Romanticism of love and death.German Film • Fantastic and mystical. most people would argue for a less equivocal relationship between a film image and reality. • In the discussion of style in film. .

.Neues Sehen • 1920s Germany ―neues Sehen (new seeing) • Describes the effect of overpowering modern industrial society with visual stimuli. • Visual fragmentation associated with photography and cinematography. • creative aesthetic responses probe the limits of representation and perception while also displacing verbal language as wellas the written word.

Expressionism • This means that language fails at a certain level to convey meaning. • Flood of images and fragmentary techniques of representation force artists and critics to rethink their assumptions about language and communication. . Meaning can only be communicated through visual imagery escaping all language.

• Modernist crisis is simultaneously a crisis of its signifying practices.Language vs. Visual Images • Language loses its communicative and interpretative functions. Language is no longer a signifier (table – how do we know that is a table? The visual is used to replace this function) .

Silent Film • The silent film shows a communicating world but without audible speech. tonality. and as a result viewers develop historically conditioned habits of lending the screen figures their own imaginary voices. rain hitting the pavement. not to speak of other sounds and noises such as whistles. or screeching car wheels that might be represented in film images. • The audience provides not only their own ―spoken text of unheard voices but also the sound quality of those voices—timbre. intonation. . pitch.

populated by fantastical doubles. • Technical innovations in lighting and cameras – leads to dynamic. and golems. and claustrophobic family life. expressive space relations and distinct gestural acting style aimed at translating inner emotions into corporeal intensity. • German Silent Cinema (Nosferatu) explores new ways to represent anxieties of modern subjectivity. vampires. psychopaths. robots. urban alienation. .The Problem • Thematically: Psychological stories about ego destabilization. • Paranoid narratives of self-loss: is the modern experience of dissociation and deracination.

costumes. John Heartfield). George Grosz). the expressionist film makers missed the opportunity to explore the rich semiotic possibilities of the new technological medium with its hybrid. . makeup. integrated the most advanced technical means at their disposal in order to transform traditional art forms and to open up new dimensions of artistic perception. synergetic forms and provocative force. • However avant-garde artistic practices. Erwin Piscator).Goals of German Expressionism • The film is a pure work of art with a unified composition of all elements: set design. in the theater (Bertolt Brecht. acting. say. lighting. and even writing. plot. photography (Hannah Höch. or the fine arts (Max Ernst. architecture.

the unconscious mind. and on the other an extenssive and obtrusive manipulation of the spatial and temporal content of what was photographed (decor.Expressionism and Nosferatu • In the expressionist tradition. montage). "reality" is best represented in hidden areas as the poetic imagination. synchronization of image and camera movements. angle. lighting. . • Stylistically. realist mise-enscene). this polarity was defined and distinguished by a fondness for principles of continuity and "seamless" verisimilitude on the one hand (invisible editing. or the dialectics of history.