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.

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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
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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.

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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


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


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


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.

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© ken adam


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