Expressionism and Surrealism

1309 Words6 Pages
* Expressionism & Surrealism: Are They So Different After All? * The evolution of cinema has been a long and effective process, bringing with it its fair share of cultural shifts and ideological changes. German Expressionism and Surrealism are two very profound and impactful movements. While these two movements occurred amid varying time periods, they both possess homologous as well as divergent aspects. German Expressionist films and Surrealist films are on the same page when it comes to the use of bold images and the unexpected. However, they vary when it boils down to the approaches they use to achieve this goal. In order to understand how these two movements captivated their audience, it is first best to examine how these two movements contrast each other. German Expressionism exploded with artistic activity that “followed the fall of the Kaiser and the founding of the Weimar Republic; making itself felt in all the arts, especially the cinema” (Mast, 2012). The dominating presence of German Expressionism was made possible through the movement’s exaggeration of mise-en-scene, which simply means everything that a scene is composed of. The exaggeration of mise-en-scene was done by emphasizing “harsh, bold graphics and revelatory distortions” (Mast, 2012); effectively contorting the audience’s logic and perception of reality. Emphasis of bold graphics and exaggeration of mise-en-scene is quite notably evident in the 1920 film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was the first attempt to film an entirely Expressionist universe, and a very successful attempt at that. Within the scenes of the film, the audience is subjected to disproportionate, diagonal staircases, trees with hellishly spiky leaves, and grass resembling the blades of knives. In addition to the physical setting being distorted, the physical characteristics of the actors
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