Lotte H. Eisner: The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt (1952/1969)
Filed under book | Tags: · 1910s, 1920s, cinema, expressionism, film, film criticism, film history, germany, romanticism, theatre
The expressionist era of German cinema began at the end of the First World War and ended shortly after the coming of sound. From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari onwards the principal films of this period were characterized by two influences: literary Expressionism, and the innovations of the theatre directors of this period, in particular Max Reinhardt. This book demonstrates the connection between German Romanticism and the cinema through Expressionist writings. It discusses the influence of the theatre: the handling of crowds; the use of different levels, and of selective lighting on a predominately dark stage; the reliance on formalized gesture; the innovation of the intimate theatre. Against this background the principal films of the period are examined in detail. The author explains the key critical concepts of the time, and surveys not only the work of the great directors, such as Fritz Lang and F. W. Murnau, but also the contribution of their writers, cameramen, and designers.
First published as L’Écran démoniaque. Influence de Max Reinhardt et de l’Expressionisme, 1952; revised 1965.
Translated by Roger Greaves
Publisher Thames and Hudson, London, 1969
Review (Richard B. Byrne, Cinema Journal, 1970)
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