A Culture Of Light: Cinema And Technology In 1920s Germany

Front Cover
U of Minnesota Press, 2005 - Performing Arts - 314 pages
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Cinema is a medium of light. And during Weimar Germany's advance to technological modernity, light - particularly the representational possibilities of electrical light - became the link between the cinema screen and the rapid changes that were transforming German life. In Frances Guerin's compelling history of German silent cinema of the 1920s, the innovative use of light is the pivot around which a new conception of a national cinema, and a national culture emerges. Guerin depicts a nocturnal Germany suffused with light - electric billboards, storefronts, police searchlights - and shows how this element of the mise-en-scene came to reflect both the opportunities and the anxieties surrounding modernity and democracy. Guerin's interpretations center on use of light in films such as Schatten (1923), Variete (1925), Metropolis (1926), and Der Golem (1920). In these films we see how light is the substance of image composition, the structuring device of the narrative, and the central thematic concern. This history relieves German films of the responsibility to explain the political and ideological instability of the period, an instability said to be the uncertain foundation of Nazism. In unlocking this dubious link, A Culture of Light redefines the field of German film scholarship.
 

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Contents

1 The Electrification of Life Cinema and Art
1
German Film to World War I
48
The Mythical Past in Algol and Schatten
74
Cinema as Modern Magic in Faust Der Golem Siegfried and Metropolis
109
5 Reformulations of Space through Light in Die StraBe Jenseits der StraBe and Am Rande der Welt
154
Technological Entertainment in Varieté and Sylvester
192
Conclusion
231
Notes
243
Index
307
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Cities and Cinema
Barbara Caroline Mennel
No preview available - 2008

About the author (2005)

Frances Guerin is a lecturer in film studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

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