Traditionally expressionism was identified as yje main feature of the style of the silent era of German film. However, this was questioned by Thomas Elsaesser and Barry Salt. Elsaesser demonstrated the role books by Siegfried Kracauer (From Caligari to Hitler) and Lotte H. Eisner (The Demonic Screen) played in the mixing up of the stylistic and thematic arenas in reviews of the Weimer era cinema. Whereas Barry Salt argued that expressionism as a motion picture style, where expressionism is understood to have grown out of its earlier application in theatre and fine arts, is present in very few films, whilst other solutions, commonly identified as examples of 'expressionism', were present not only in German film, but in world cinema. The author tries to define the works that truly represent German expressionism. He widens the list proposed by Salt by titles named by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, and other titles identified by himself. He also questions the view that expressionism in film was to serve subjectification of the world presented as an expression of inner states of the authors or the protagonists portrayed in the film. Following Elsaesser the author argues, that expressionism in film was above all a question of fashionable design, accepted in fine arts, and it was used in film in order to give the medium the status of an art.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.