By Frances Guerin

Cinema is a medium of sunshine. and through Weimar Germany's enhance to technological modernity, gentle - really the representational chances of electric gentle - turned the hyperlink among the cinema reveal and the fast alterations that have been remodeling German lifestyles. In Frances Guerin's compelling historical past of German silent cinema of the Twenties, the cutting edge use of sunshine is the pivot round which a brand new perception 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 movies equivalent to Schatten (1923), Variete (1925), city (1926), and Der Golem (1920). In those movies we see how gentle is the substance of picture composition, the structuring gadget of the narrative, and the crucial thematic crisis. This background relieves German movies of the accountability to give an explanation for the political and ideological instability of the interval, an instability stated to be the doubtful starting place of Nazism. In unlocking this doubtful hyperlink, A tradition of sunshine redefines the sphere of German movie scholarship.

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Additional info for A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany

Sample text

1 The first wave of industrialization was, however, hampered by an economic crash in 1873, and it was not until the late 1890s that economic and social stability was reestablished. Germany’s second wave of industrialization around the turn of the century was accelerated and exaggerated in comparison to that of Britain, France, and Austria, for example. 2 Berlin’s formative years as capital of a nation- state coincided with Germany’s rapid industrialization and rise to technological prominence following the Franco- Prussian war much later, around 1870.

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.

In Ury’s painting, artificial light is at the core of this social definition. The light that animates the train station enables the lady to travel, the vendor to work. Moreover, as indicated by the long, dark shadows cast by the figures in the painting, lights enable the extension of the activities of daylight hours into the night. Similarly, the use of The Electrification of Life, Cinema, and Art – 17 light to represent the place of the individual’s relationship to the changing world reached innovative levels in the 1910s in German painting.

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