expressionism in film

3 09 2013

EXPRESSIONISM comes from latin – EXPRESSIO, the ‘expression’. before WWI it was a development in style that was mainly aimed against naturalism and impressionism. expressionism became the ART of ENHANCED EXPRESSION.

1calig poster

the characteristics of expressionism in film were painted- instead of built-sets, as well as distorted perspectives and high contrast in lights and darks. inspired by paintings and some theatre experiments like MAX REINHARDT at the deutsches theater in berlin, a few directors tried to come up with similar solutions for film after WWI. grotesque phantastic worlds were shown as a mirror of psychic nightmares. budgets in german and austrian films were not comparable to hollywood, and alone for that reason, the producers tried to compensate the missing technology and expensive set-designs in different ways. the art in those days was willing to experiment everywhere, what was leading in film as well to radikal new solutions.

2Original sketch for a scene in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari from Lotte Eisner
6calig big 2
3.1921-Werner-Krauss-Conrad-Veidt-Cabinet-of-Dr-Caligari-bhs443a
4cabinett of caligari comp

famous examples are robert wiene’s DAS KABINETT DES DR.CALIGARI 1919, friedrich wilhelm murnau’s NOSFERATU 1921, paul wegener’s DER GOLEM 1920, karl grune’s DIE STRASSE 1923, fritz lang’s DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER 1922, and georg wilhelm pabst’s DIE FREUDLOSE GASSE 1925. the expressionist silent film featured very prominent actors, like GRETA GARBO, CONRADT VEIDT, POLA NEGRI, FRITZ KORTNER, ASTA NIELSEN and WERNER KRAUSS and became a major style influence in international film in its time.
later especially two film genres were influenced by german expressionistic film – HORROR FILM and FILM NOIR.

5calig big1
7calig.comp 2
8calig comp 3
9the others 1
10the others 2





time travel

19 06 2013

when I was growing up reading whatever I could find, two writers, JULES VERNE and H.G.WELLS, and their books 20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and THE TIME MACHINE were amongst my favorites. when the live action films were released, I was excited to see the books come alive. so I watched the disney 1954 capt.nemo and nautilus saga very early, as well as the scary time travel drama, released in 1960. I had no idea about the involvement of WALT DISNEY, GEORGE PAL and RICHARD FLEISCHER, MAX FLEISCHER’S son, at that time, the f i l m s were important. the search for more information came much later, what was way more difficult and time consuming than today with the internet . when I look at those pictures now I feel transported back in my own time machine… maybe some of you feel similar – here are some memories of these two special films

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

© disney enterprises, inc
© George Pal Productions, Galaxy Films Inc., MGM





mr.arkadin

17 11 2010

MR.ARKADIN, released between 1955 in spain, 1956 in germany and 1962 in the US, is another one of my favorite ORSON WELLES films. he directed the film, but was ( uncredited ) responsible as well for the art direction, costume design and editing. the cinematography in this black/white thriller is by JEAN BOURGOIN. below are some captured scenes to show you the incredible use of the camera, and some of the unusual compositions throughout the whole film.


© orson welles





the stranger

30 10 2010

THE STRANGER, released may 25, 1946, is a visually very interesting film, full with stunning camera-angles, very effective use of light/shadow and just masterpiece picture compositions. directed by ORSON WELLES, cinematography by RUSSELL METTY and music by BROWNISLAW KAPER, it stars ORSON WELLES ( franz kindler/professor charles rankin ), EDWARD G.ROBINSON ( mr. wilson ) and LORETTA YOUNG ( mary longstreet rankin ).

a short synopsis – mr.wilson, a united nations nazi hunter, is on the trail of franz kindler, mastermind of the holocaust, who has taken on a new identity as a professor in harper, connecticut and marrying mary longstreet. wilson releases kindler’s former compatriot meinike and follows him to harper, where he is killed before he can identify kindler. now wilson’s only clue is kindler’s fascination with antique clocks.

© RKO pictures





eisenstein

12 11 2009

the following captured images are from a masterpiece of filmmaking, SERGEI EISENSTEINS’S - IVAN THE TERRIBLE. with a very powerful musical soundtrack composed by SERGEI PROKOFIEV, the first part was released in the soviet union in 1944, the second part in 1958. the historical epic black/white film about zsar IVAN IV of russia was planned as a trilogy, but EISENSTEIN died in 1948 before the film could be finished. tragic is additional that due to political censorship part 2 was not released until 1958. and all footage of the 3. part was confiscated after EISENSTEIN’S death and most of it destroyed. the visuals are stunning, incredible compositions and very effective use of light and shadow as you can see in the scenes below.

ivan comp blog





moments 8

10 11 2009

moments 8

a few interesting compositions collected from live action feature films.





ken adam

6 11 2009

SIR KEN ADAM was born 1921 in berlin, germany. being jewish/german he relocated in 1933 to england with his family. after the second worldwar he started to work in the film industry, educated as an architect. in the mid-fifties he worked in hollywood on AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and BEN HUR. it was there where he met his mentor WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES. the 1957 released and directed by JACQUES TOURNEURNIGHT OF THE DEMON ( one of my favorite films ) was his first major hollywood credit. it was in 1962 when his long lasting work on the JAMES BOND films started, with DR. NO. he designed all BOND films until MOONRAKER in 1979. inbetween in 1963 he was the production designer for STANLEY KUBRICK’SDR. STRANGELOVE: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. as well he was responsible for the look of another favorite of mine, the 1965 THE IPCRESS FILE. later GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, and – again with KUBRICK – BARRY LYNDON, for which he won his first OSCAR. these are only a few of the highlights I mentioned. ken adam is an amazing drawing artist with an unlimited imagination as you can see in the following sketches.

ken adam046
ken adam047
ken adam048
ken adam comp

© ken adam





sky

12 10 2009

JOHN WATKISS did a lot of designwork inclusive storyboards on the 2004 released SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. recently he worked on the new version of SHERLOCK HOLMES and you can see some of the artwork after the film comes out. john moved back to brighton about a year and a half back. he’s currently working on a lot of personal stuff, a DAVY CROCKET- project for WB, and a very large project for the Estate of Robert E. Howard. there is a lot more to see on his website.
following some of his ‘sky captain’ storyboards.

sky1
sky2
sky4
sky9
sky10
sky11
sky12
sky13
sky15
sky16
sky17
sky18

© Brooklyn Films II/Paramount Pictures/john watkiss





moments 7

26 09 2009

TURNER PICTURES released in 1992 a very well done documentary WHEN THE LION ROARS, the history of MGM. six hours on a three VHS tape set. the following mosaic with forgotten memories from the early days of filmmaking is my inspiration for the weekend.

forgotten mosaic 909 web

© TURNER pictures/MGM





earring

22 09 2009

JOHANNES VERMEER, 1632 – 1675, is today considered as one of the greatest painters of the DUTCH GOLDEN AGE. that was not so during his lifetime, maybe because he only created a relatively small amount of paintings. he is best known for his masterly treatment and use of light, and for a special color, he used in most of his work – the VERMEER GREEN. DELFT in the netherlands, where vermeer lived, was at that time the center of optical experimentation and lens-making, what suggests that vermeer used a CAMERA OBSCURA in composing his pictures and handling colors and values. his portrayed figures are perfectly embedded in their environment, the atmosphere is peaceful and has a mysterious feel.

one of vermeer’s most well known paintings is THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING. the film with the same title, released 2003, is one of my favorites. directed by PETER WEBBER, art direction BEN VAN OS, costume design DIEN VAN STRAALEN and – cinematography EDUARDO SERRA. eduardo serra was the cinematographer of the 1997 WINGS OF THE DOVE as well. the visuals in the vermeer film are stunning, the whole film looks like vermeer’s painting come alive.
I combined some scenes of the film with a few of vermeer’s paintings to show you, how well films can be done completely without tons of special effects.

pearl 1

pearl 2

pearl 3
pearl 4

© archer street productions





lone wolf and cub

22 06 2009

SAM MENDES directed this july 2002 dreamworks release – ROAD TO PERDITION. some critics called it one of the greatest achievements of film-making of this decade. it is not only the good story and perfect acting that makes this film special to me. as source of inspiration mendes and cinematographer CONRAD HALL drew from the paintings of EDWARD HOPPER, especially his NEW YORK MOVIE from 1939. the film has numerous very unusual shots and amazing compositions, with an interesting depth of field use. a big influence for a lot of shots were the panels in the graphic novel, illustrated by RICHARD PIERS RAYNER. I should not forget to mention the outstanding work in this film of production designer DENNIS GASSNER and costume designer ALBERT WOLSKY.

road to perdition

EdwardHopperNewYorkMovie1939 copy

rd to perd.comic

© DREAMWORKS
© edward hopper
© richard piers rayner/max allan collins





portraits

28 05 2009

LA PASSION DE JEANNE D’ARC was produced a silent film in france in 1928, directed by CARL THEODOR DREYER. even for today standards the film is a masterpiece, in acting – especially the main role played by RENEE JEANNE FALCONETTI, as well as for the visuals. the camera concentrates mainly on the actor’s facial features. dreyer shot a lot of the film in close-up and did not allow his actors to wear makeup, the better to tell the story through their expressions. this choice was made possible through use of the newly developed PANCHROMATIC FILM. for years the original versiion of the film was believed to be lost after a fire destroyed the master negative. only in 1981 another complete print of dreyer’s version was found. this version is now available on DVD. I highly recommend this film, as you can see in these few screen captures, there are ‘real’ characters portrayed in this film. it is a piece of art.

jeanne d'arc comp

you can order the DVD here








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