A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany by Frances Guerin

By Frances Guerin

Cinema is a medium of sunshine. and through Weimar Germany's strengthen to technological modernity, gentle - relatively the representational probabilities of electric gentle - grew to become the hyperlink among the cinema reveal and the swift alterations that have been remodeling German lifestyles. In Frances Guerin's compelling historical past of German silent cinema of the Twenties, the cutting edge use of sunshine is the pivot round which a brand new belief of a countrywide cinema, and a countrywide tradition emerges. Guerin depicts a nocturnal Germany suffused with gentle - electrical billboards, storefronts, police searchlights - and indicates how this section of the mise-en-scene got here to mirror either the possibilities and the anxieties surrounding modernity and democracy. Guerin's interpretations heart on use of sunshine in motion pictures akin to Schatten (1923), Variete (1925), city (1926), and Der Golem (1920). In those movies we see how mild is the substance of snapshot composition, the structuring equipment of the narrative, and the vital thematic drawback. This background relieves German motion pictures of the accountability to give an explanation for the political and ideological instability of the interval, an instability stated to be the doubtful origin of Nazism. In unlocking this doubtful hyperlink, A tradition of sunshine redefines the sector of German movie scholarship.

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Extra info for A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany

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In each art form we fi nd significant examples of the tripartite use of light and lighting. Central to an understanding of the coherence of the artistic culture of light is the artworks’ engagement with the long tradition of uses of light and lighting within representation. Although they converse with this tradition in different ways, that the works within the culture of light privilege the issues of this tradition as the defining characteristics of their modernist aesthetic binds them together. It is therefore not simply at the level of style, but also at that of their historical and representational influences that these works are connected.

When set against this background of the development of light and lighting in pre–World War II Germany, the unique visions of the fi lms discussed in chapters 2 through 6 are brought to the fore. In addition, the strength of the connections between the fi lms’ articulations in light and lighting and those in other media establish the fi lms’ unique contribution to the culture of light in 1920s Germany and the development of a modernist aesthetic in Europe. Because I argue for a German national cinema that develops across the interruptions caused by World War I and in spite of changes of government and economic turbulence, Chapter 2 analyzes the use of light and lighting in a number of fi lms from the teens.

And indeed, there are none of the contradictions, none of the troubled relationships to change brought by technological modernity that are so dramatized in the fi lms I discuss. The existence of the Bergfilme and other fi lm genres from the period is further evidence that those fi lms engaged in the culture of light account for only one perspective— albeit shifting and fractured— of the world that surrounded them. Chapter 1 of the book sets the stage for the film analyses that ensue xxxii – Introduction in chapters 2 through 6.

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