German Expressionism In Film Detour

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Film noir is a cinematic style that began in the early 1940s that focused on the crime and corruption that occurs in everyday life. Film noir was influenced by two major film movements, German Expressionism and French poetic realism (Schrader 8). While German Expressionism influenced lighting techniques, realism affected narrative and cinematography. The Great Depression and World War II shaped film noir’s cynical tone that fate is uncontrollable. A classic example of film noir is the 1945 film Detour, directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The film follows a flashback narrative of Al Roberts first-hand recollection of two deaths that led to his arrest. In the film, there is significant evidence of the influence from German Expressionism, French poetic realism, and the cultural shifts caused by the Great Depression and World War II. The lighting displayed throughout the film mirrored the theatrical lighting techniques used in German Expressionist films. Detour was …show more content…

In the film, Al is discussing his concerns about being blamed for the murders of Charles and Vera and states, “The world is full of skeptics. Who would believe me?” Ulmer used cynicism and pessimism in Al’s character to symbolize the attitudes of American citizens. During the depression, Americans suffered from high unemployment, mass shortages of supplies, and economic uncertainty. As a result, crime increased as unemployed citizens attempted to put food on the table. This is similar to the scene where Vera hypothesized that Al killed Charles for his money and car. The women characters in “hard-boiled traditions” are symbolized as either pure or evil. Al’s infatuation with Sue’s purity becomes the underlying reason he gets blamed for the deaths. Film noir indicates that women effortlessly drive men to act irrationally. The cynical viewpoint present in Detour warns of the consequences for love-driven

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