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The movements of German Expressionism and Japanese pre-war cinema produced trends greatly influenced by its historical context. These contexts contributed to shaping their own stylistic styles captured throughout the theme, mise-en-scene, and cultural ideologies. Although these two movements occurred in fairly similar time periods, they both occurred in different parts of the world which had a fundamental role in generating key contrasts between these movements. Both occurring in pre-war periods, a striking similarity existed between the two; they both displayed the economic instabilities. Both subtly exhibited the internal anxieties that the individuals faced in the differing societies. German Expressionism had the stylistic forms that in turn captured distorted images or grotesque style to convey an abstract sense of reality throughout 1920’s. On the other hand, the Japanese pre-war cinema expressed the humanistic family by displaying their everyday struggles of the lower middle class known as the “common people” during the 1930’s. Although these movements were individually unique throughout their distinct stylistic devices and ideologies, they essentially came together during this time period to help transform the art of national cinema.          By analyzing the historical contexts of these specific movements, we take a deeper look at society’s social, religious, economic, and political conditions that existed during a certain time and place. These relevant factors profuse mass influence into a filmmakers decisions while in the production process of a film. Additionally, these components have the role of establishing distinct trends in the film industry. Each movement has its own purpose for creating each film in regards to a stylistic standpoint.         As we look deeper into the historical contexts that came about in Germany during the 1920’s, Germany was confined due to the isolation the country was experiencing during World War I. During this solitude, the German government banned foreign films. German Expressionism was formed in result of the conclusion of World War I which compelled Germany to establish its own style of cinema. German Expressionist films produced in the Weimar Republic immediately following the First World War not only encompass the sociopolitical contexts in which they were created, but also rework the intrinsically modern problems of self-reflexivity, spectacle, and identity. After the Germans lost World War I, they lacked power and financial stability. Many of the films that were produced during this movement truly corresponded with the lives of all of the individuals in Germany. This movement exhibited a glimpse into the chaos that was fueling the public’s lives and represented the political system that was plagued by dysfunction. The public feared what could happen next as they were headed to their weakest and most vulnerable moment in history as Adolf Hitler would soon take over. The ideology that commenced during this time frame was the concept of communism. This look into society at this particular moment in history expresses the disillusionment, distrust, and isolation experienced by many individuals living in Germany at the time.            These films focused on a type of approach that was embedded in the psychological nature of one notable detective’s stories. One example, in particular, M, directed by Fritz Lang, clearly exhibits the relationship between corruption and justice in German society, which spoke to the nation’s mentality that was stricken with anxiety and instability. This movement of film demonstrated how danger was integrated throughout the historical and social contexts of this serial killer society. The murderer, M, throughout the film, is depicted as a shadow. In turn, this helps to display how the society is filled with the fear of the unknown, especially for what is to come. This is a clear example of how this character can be related back to the themes expressed about the socio-political climate of Germany in the early 1930’s. Another expressionist film produced by Fritz Lang, displays the mis-en-scene through buildings of sharp angles, great heights, and crowded environments shown in the Levels of the City in Metropolis. This film shows how powerless and oppressed an individual can be, while scrutinizing the themes of industrialization and communism that ultimately played an instrumental role during and after World War I.             Shifting our focus to a different sector of the world, we take a look into the movement of Japanese pre war cinema. This movement was formed as a result of an economic depression, one cause in particular being the Great Kanto Earthquake that occurred in 1923 (Lo, PPT 8/30, Slide 9). This earthquake contributed greatly to the rise of unemployment within the “common people” known as the lower and middle class. There was an array of different reactions contrived from this economic depression, a few being the Public Security Preservation Law of 1925, March 15th incident, and the invasion of Manchuria. These changes implemented throughout Japanese society were emulated in the film genre, Shomin-geki. The ideology of the Japanese pre-war is the sense of socialism. This national cinema wanted to exhibited elements of realism when portraying the lower middle class by looking at “people just like you and me.”          One film that did a monumental role in displaying these social melodramas was, “I Was Born, But.” In this 1932 Japanese silent film, directed by Yasujir? Ozu, the producer depicted the economic struggles of the Yoshi family, which can be related back to the economic standpoint transpiring all throughout society. This realist film demonstrates the apparent low self-esteem that the father continues to display throughout the film. This depicts a clear correlation to the theme of the economic depression ensuing in Japan during the 1930’s (Russell 25). The father embodies a mindset of observance of the way things are and a willingness to go along with them, referred to as “mono no aware.” However, the children, Ryoichi and Keiji, in this film yearned for a shift in society by striving to restore the national pride. This film displays the subtle ways of showcasing the everyday lives of individuals. Another example that occurs in the initial scene of “I was Born But” presents a carriage getting stuck in the mud. As the wheels turned aimlessly, the carriage could not move from its original area. This scene symbolizes the economic troubles present and how individuals cannot escape these difficulties that had been transpiring within society. However, by the end of the film, a drive for change is present. The children attempt to renew society from this economic depression. Additionally, the Shomin-geki genre incorporates slapstick comedies, which presents physical humor. This tone of comedy was infused throughout the film, “I was Born But.” Both of these film movements, German expressionism and Japanese pre-war, were similar in regards to the collective conscience of each nation at the time. Both were invoked as a result of the chaos fueled by economic disorder that was present throughout these closely related time periods.         As we take a closer look at the stylistic styles embedded throughout these two movements of film, we discern that they differ in several various aspects. German Expressionism is a film movement that is most notable for its dark themes of horror, death, and fatality that translate prevalently into the film’s mise-en-scene and narrative. It depicts the principle of formalism with its conviction of extreme distortion as means to communicate inner emotional reality. The mis-en-scene displays dramatic shadows, which gives the audience a gloomy and ominous feeling. The dark shadows play an instrumental role in the narrative as it becomes the storyteller by reflecting the behaviors of the characters with suspense and the audience’s psychology (Corrigan 13). The integration of these elements of mise-en-scene has the ability of manipulating the viewer’s emotions by exhibiting a fear driven society.            By observing the stylistic styles generated throughout these social melodramas of the Japanese pre war cinema, we discern that it focuses on the crises of family. The crises of family depict the losses, sufferings, and frustration that are a visible part of the social politics of the time period. It explored themes of society attempting to reconcile tradition and modernity. These realist films utilize elements of mis-en-scene which is displayed with camera movement in the continuous cross-examination between two different generations. This depicts the moving across of viewpoints in techniques that are parallel to the altitude shifts of Ozu’s camera. This camera shift between these two generations clearly exhibits the power struggles represented throughout Japanese society.           The movements of German Expressionism and Japanese pre-war cinema exhibit similarities. They both transpired in the pre-war period; thus, they both depict the economic troubles brewing in each society at that time. The contrasts become prevalent in the purpose of making films and what stylistic devices came about from each nation. Each one of these movements formulated their own unique eloquent styles that contributed to the world of national cinema. The objective in these movements is to demonstrate how the specific society, culture, or national environment had an instrumental role in displaying in subtle ways the lives of the individuals embodied throughout each nation.

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