Expressionism is the visual hyperbole—eliciting emotions through gross exaggeration. The German Expressionism movement started in the early twentieth century art world, pre-WWI, presumably from Vincent Van Gogh’s “pioneering expressionist paintings like… Starry, Starry Night”(Encyclopaedia of Art History). It was a purely aesthetic movement at this time that sought to oppose the Impressionist movement, which imitated nature, by imposing unnatural, distorted images. Aspects of those distortions served to convey the emotions an artist held towards their subject. War brought terror. War brought mental meltdowns. War changed the Expressionistic style into a “bitter protest movement”(Encyclopaedia of Art History) as artists “suffered from war-induced disillusionment and were dissatisfied with post-war German society”(Robinson,11).
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...y. The Last Laugh mixed Expressionist techniques with a realism, i.e. Janning’s increasingly contorted acting, that drew out the downfall of a demoted doorman, stemming from a fear of unemployment that brewed in post-war societies; the framing techniques, low usage of inter-titles, and sardonic and mysterious endings all contribute to the merging of these films from the = Expressionist art movement, to a cinematic movement of its own. Mirroring the horrors world citizens felt in everyday life, these films introduced experimental techniques into cinema, which has let German Expressionism influence remain prevalent in the 1940-50s Film Noir, and the modern Horror genre.
As the credits draw to a close on these Expressionistic films and the viewer is left with questions to the nature of endings and distorted figures, one could say
The Last Laugh stays with their makers .
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