By Frances Guerin
Cinema is a medium of sunshine. and through Weimar Germany's improve to technological modernity, mild - rather the representational chances of electric gentle - turned the hyperlink among the cinema monitor and the swift adjustments that have been remodeling German lifestyles. In Frances Guerin's compelling historical past of German silent cinema of the Nineteen 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 mild - electrical billboards, storefronts, police searchlights - and exhibits how this portion 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 motion pictures we see how mild is the substance of picture composition, the structuring machine of the narrative, and the significant thematic challenge. This heritage relieves German movies of the accountability to give an explanation for the political and ideological instability of the interval, an instability acknowledged 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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Additional info for A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany
At the turn of the century and through the 1920s, certain German painters and writers were also preoccupied with the transformation to daily life brought about by the industrialization of light. 84 Despite the apparent lack of engagement with modernist formal and thematic concerns, Berliner Rummelplatz/Berlin Fairground is charged with the use of paint as light to depict the novelty of modern urban nightlife. Lesser Ury’s compelling depiction of Berlin’s Friedrichstraße train station (Am Bahnhof Friedrichstraße/At the Friedrichstrasse Station, 1888) reveals the extremes of class stratiﬁcation that come alive under the night lights: a wealthy woman is isolated and melancholy, she is oblivious to a nearby ﬂower vendor who is also cut off from the passersby by the empty space that surrounds her.
The German companies were not leading the ﬁeld in the design and construction of ﬁlm or projection lighting. 45 If electrical lights were being used in the German studios, they were typically acquired from the United States. 49 They may not have been integrated immediately by the studios, but technological developments were continually pursued. There was also ongoing discussion in the trade and intellectual journals of the time regarding the latest innovations in electrical light usage in the cinema.
22 The Electriﬁcation of Life, Cinema, and Art – 5 It was no longer a question of simply illuminating public spaces. Rather, the streets, city squares, train stations, and workplaces all demanded different intensities of light and lighting. 23 Given the exponential growth of manufacture, transmission, and use of electricity and electrical appliances after the war, it is understandable that the effects of these new inventions were even more signiﬁcantly experienced in the 1920s than in the prewar years.