German Expressionism In Metropolis

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German Expressionism has influenced thousands of films and filmmakers since the art movement began in the 1920’s. It is known for its dismissal of the standard conventions of Western filmmaking for a more off-kilter style of storytelling. Some film historians consider Metropolis (1927) to be one of the most groundbreaking German Expressionist films ever made. However, there are many instances throughout Metropolis in which it deviates from the eccentric Expressionist style. There are many obvious occurrences of expressionism during Metropolis, for example the opening machine sequence, but conventional Western techniques are also common in the film. Lighting is used rather traditionally for the majority of the movie and helps to distinguish the “good” from the “bad”. For instance, the original Maria is shown in soft-key, angelic lighting that casts a halo around her to emphasize her purity and beauty. The fake Maria, on the other hand, is shot in harsh lighting that creates a dark, unsettling vignette around her. This lighting style creates a contrast between protagonists and antagonists and is used frequently in Hollywood cinema. Another convention of German Expressionism is a harsh set design. Jagged lines, winding roads, jolting architecture and looming archways are all classic pieces to an expressionist set design. And while the set design of Metropolis was extremely elaborate and still astonishing to this day, it does not truly fit the expressionist style. The city
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