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Film Art The term Assignment PDF

Added on - 17 Nov 2021

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Last name1
Paramvir Kaur
090135
Professor Molly Lewis
Date: 13thNov 2018
Film:101BV
Topic: Film Art
The term Film noir that means black film or cinema is a type of film that is characterized
by an aura of pessimism, menace and fatalism. The term was first coined by a French critic
called Nino Frank in 1946 who observed how dark the film were in terms of its theme and
treatment of the subject. A group of French critics applied this term to American thrillers and
detective movies made in the period between 1944 to 1954. It refers to the works of directors like
Orson Welles, Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang. Classic film noir developed during and after the
Second World War that reflected the ambience of the Post Second World War period and
reflected the pessimism, anxiety and suspicion of the times. An example of a film noir films
include ‘Touch of Evil’ made in 1958 by Orson Welles. German Expressionism arose in
Germany during the 1920s just before the First World War. The cinematic style that German
Expressionism brought about, included sharp angles, dramatic shadows, harsh lighting, jagged
shapes and high contrasts. The cinematographers used Chiaroscuro lighting using a
monochromatic palette. The faces of characters were often obscured using shadows to create
dark casts over them, which symbolized the idea of deception and show that everybody has a
dark side to their personalities. The landscapes that were shown in the film reflected the state of
the country and the mind of the people at that time that was filled with uncertainty and paranoia.
The use of a monochromatic palette using only black and white colours had a direct influence on
film noir. The film’s narratives delved into topics such as paranoia, betrayal and insanity
reflecting the mood of the times. The subject of these German Expressionist films also had an
influence on film noirs. Characters from a scientific background such as professors and doctors
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were also prevalent such as the famous film, ‘The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari’ which featured a
hypnotist who is also a murderer. There are visual similarities between German Expressionism
and Film Noir. The sharp lines and shadows are common in both styles of films with film Noir
being influenced by German Expressionism. In terms of theme, both film noir and German
Expressionism share similar elements with paranoia and skepticism recurring in both types of
films. This essay will attempt to show how German Expressionism influenced film noir
stylistically and will take into account Robert Wiene’s 1920 silent Expressionist film ‘The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ and compare it with Rudolph Mate’s 1949 film noir D.O.A.
In terms of Expressionism, Mis-en-scene is used to represent the consciousness of a
character, emotions and thought process. There are four aspects of Mis-en-scene. They include
Setting, Costume and make-up, Lighting and Acting. Setting refers to those elements in a frame
that seeks to define space, place and the time period.
Setting can take on an active role in films. Setting also includes props or properties that
function within the ongoing action. Costume and make-up refers to the clothing and attire of
characters in the film. Costume and make-up can function to express the situation of characters,
mood or consciousness. Costume functions through three properties i.e. colour, texture and
movement. Costumes can also play a causal and a motivating role in the narrative of a film.
Costume can also function as props. Make-up is also very important as it helps to bring about a
sense of realism to a character. Lighting conveys textures, it helps to shape objects by creating
light and shadows. There are four characteristics to lighting such as quality, direction, source and
colour.Acting refers to the physical performance of a character including expressions, actions
and gestures. Acting helps a character to express his or her thoughts and feelings.
In the film, entitled ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ director Robert Wiene uses angular
sets, makeup that is highly contrasted and mis-en-scene to create a mood of conclusion and
chaos. Film noir uses urban landscape of cities to add to the anxiety and chaos that is perceived
by many of the characters in the films (Timeless Classic Movies). In films like D.O.A. by
Rudolph Mate and Double Indemnity by Billy Wilder, the characters are always trying to harm
people and are untrustworthy characters that are not heroic in nature (Thiel). Distrust, deceit and
murder are played out against the backdrop of large cities that seems to be the perfect landscape
for these events. With sharp angles and stylized sets the films of the German Expressionist
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