Essay Expressionismus

The plot follows the dark and twisting story of the mysterious Dr.

Caligari (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murder in the villages he visits.

Due to the high concepts expressionism art portrayed many directors, cameramen, and lighting technicians were forced to seek out new techniques in order to bring these concepts to the screen.

Expressionism reached its zenith by the mid 1920’s in Germany, with many production companies releasing multiple titles weeks apart from one another.

Expressionist films would use atmospheric lighting, asymmetrical camera angles and highlight many objects and characters with the use of high contrast between dark and light.

The plots that featured in German expressionism were usually occupied with madness, identity of one’s self and insanity.

This led to German cinema becoming one of the most exciting national cinemas in Europe and indeed the world, as Hollywood was still finding its feet with the relatively new medium.

To achieve this darkness, set designer Hermann Warm decided to paint much of the background props as supposed to constructing them. The streets of the town spiral off into the distance essentially heading nowhere.

When all these aspects were brought together the result was usually a dark film with plenty of subtext to them.

The atrocities of World War One started to manifest themselves in German cinema through the horror genre.

Heirs to Stoker’s estate sued the production company, with a judge ruling all copies of Murnau’s adaptation to be destroyed.

A copy survived, leading the film to become one of cinemas most renowned pieces of work.

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