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German Expressionism

After World War I, an artistic movement began in Germany called the Weimar Cinema, or later called German Expressionism. The movement is most often credited with introducing a new style of film in which dark, dramatic lighting and abstract set design were used to convey emotion. Films included an antagonist who was usually depicted as an iconoclast and their actions often resulted in pandemonium and terror. Out of German Expressionism came Film Noir, a coined phrase used to describe dark and cynical films that followed World War II (Dirks).

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Expressionist films like Nosferatu, are attributed to the creation of modern-expressionism in American films. Nosferatu and No Country for Old Men include similar main characters, ominous-looking camera shots and sets, and instances of fixation and insanity portrayed by the main characters. Nosferatu’s main character Count Orlok and No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh are both emotionless and ruthless individuals. German Expressionist films include an anti-hero who is generally characterized as evil (Hudson). Orlok is a vampire who is both repulsive in appearance and upholds a demonic presence.

He sleeps in soil infected with the Black Plague and as he travels and spreads the ailment across Europe, he kills thousands. Anton is an assassin who is accustomed to killing; he shows no mercy for his victims. Many characters of German Expressionist films are grotesque and dark (Dirks). Both are dark and sinister in their stature. Orlok is abnormally tall and thin with large eyes and pointed fingers which exaggerate the eerie and frightening feeling experienced at the sight of him. Anton’s appearance, although not as intense as Orlok’s, is characterized by his size and sunken eyes, as well as the cattle gun he carries around as a weapon.

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