walter schulze-mittendorff bio 15

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff

15. The Expressionist Film
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Not just physically but also emotionally wasted after the war, people are craving for the opposite of war, that is, for innovation, for freedom; for creative action to express itself, for finding repose in the muse, for the assimilation of all the dread by means of sensitive sophistication. After the war, the Expressionist style comes to another pinnacle in film; the film is a congenial medium for the outcry of the wounded soul.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, GRAUEN (,Horror‘), 1932

German Expressionist film is defined by the horrors of the First World War. Work has just begun on analysing the human psyche. While the 'I' comes ever more clearly to awareness, it is simultaneously damaged by the direct experience of violence, of deprivation and manifold death. The psyche is shattered and broken, shifted and deranged. The film's backdrop creates the space for the action to unfold itself: the scenery distorted with the stylistic device of Expressionism, transmitting an unreal look and feeling. What is real? This is the question and it seems to be the subconscious central theme of the Expressionist film. Something has cracked open and admits the dark, the occult, to come to light, so that it may become conscious. Delusions and madness, uncontrollable unhuman beings, death and doom and dark powers are predominating themes in the German film after the First World War. Some outstanding films of that time anticipate the horror that is to become real under the National Socialists a few years later.
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