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If you only knew how strange it is to be there. It is a world without sound, without colour. Everything there — the earth, the trees, the people, the water and the air — is dipped in monotonous grey.
Grey rays of the sun across the grey sky, grey eyes in grey faces, and the leaves of the trees are ashen grey. It is not life but its shadow, it is not motion but its soundless spectre. Here I shall try to explain myself, lest I be suspected of madness or indulgence in symbolism.
Aesthetically, they draw on the influence of expressionist painters and spirit photographers of the s. Narrative style comes from the stories played out by the Grand Guignol Theatre Company which in turn were taken from Gothic literature. They also draw upon the folklore and legends of Europe and render monsters familiar from childhood into physical form.
Nineteenth-century audiences enjoyed seeing ghosts captured in still photography and magic lantern shows, so it was natural that the techniques of superimposition would be transferred to the new technology in order to tell fantastic and bizarre tales.
While the first moving pictures tended to be action and comedy, early filmmakers also used photographic trickery to explore darker stories with psychological and supernatural themes, recognizable as the first horror films — although they wouldn't be labeled as such until the s.
They had to overcome the limits imposed by the technology and tell a story powerful enough to make the audience suspend their disbelief. Gorky's description of flickering images "dipped in monotonous grey" says it all.
Darkness and shadows, such important features of modern horror, were impossible to show on the low contrast film stock available at the time, so some sequences, for example in Nosferatu, where we see a vampire leaping amongst gravestones in what appears to be broad daylight, will seem doubly surreal to a modern audience primed to expect pitch black and bright light.
Nonetheless, these early entries to the horror genre established many of the codes and conventions still identifiable today.
Unfortunately, the fragility of early film stock and the piecemeal approach to archiving mean that many of the earliest horror films have been lost forever. Some, however, have survived. The Very First Horror Films 19th century Both audiences and filmmakers demonstrated an early interest in the macabre, although the term 'horror' wasn't used to describe a film genre until the s.
These early horror films were referred to at the time as 'Spook tales'. Although it has a running time of a little over three minutes, this supernatural story still manages to pack in the genre paradigms: This gave a major boost to the German film industry, which went from producing 24 films in to in German filmmakers had plenty of opportunities to develop a national style, which was heavily influenced by the Expressionist movement in German fine arts.
Artists moved from the theatre into film and applied the same thinking to their set designs. They believed movie sets should represent an artificial reality, distorted landscapes reflecting the interior state of the characters or the emotional themes of the story rather than natural locations.
Given the national mood in wartime Germany, this led to some nightmarish designs. The version, purportedly about an antique dealer who discovers a four centuries old golem and uses it as a personal servant, has been lost, but it was so successful that it generated a comedy about an actor in a golem suit The Golem And The Dancing Girl' made in and a prequel, made inwhich is the only one of the three films to survive.
The poster for the Golem is typical of the Expressionist film art of the era — and nightmare-inducing. Paul Wegener directed and starred in the origin story of how the golem came into the world. He is brought to life by Rabbi Loew to save the Jews of sixteenth century Prague from persecution.
However, this noble intent is defiled by the Rabbi's assistant, who tries to use the golem for his own nefarious ends, causing chaos in the ghetto. Karl Freund's camera work and Hans Poelzig's strange, twisted sets had a lasting impact on the genre.
The Jewish legend influenced Mary Shelley during her creation of a monster a century earlier, and a decade or so later, this cinematic golem is a clear influence on Whale's and Karloff's depiction of Frankenstein's Monster.
These three men were part of the broad group of artists associated with the Zurich magazine, Der Sturm. They all worked on the production design of the triumph of German Expressionist cinema, The Cabinet of Dr.
Hermann Warm believed "films must be drawings brought to life". The absurd geometry and heightened shadows of the Caligari designs convey the sensation that reality has been recreated from the strokes of a madman's pen.
Often cited as the 'granddaddy of all horror films', this is an eerie exploration of the mind of a madman, pitting an evil doctor against a hero falsely incarcerated in a lunatic asylum.A.
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