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The reality around us is always evolving and we may never be able to notice the shift that happens when something enters the culture and changes it. Post World War I people are terrified, scared. Millions of people are dying because of hunger and many other reasons. No one saw such a destructive world before that. After this many artist are unable to express themselves, the Germans had a kind of heritage and a history of being very good at this getting this great angst out. So what we have is in the early 20th century what we have is a couple of movements of Expressionism and it’s all about feeling and it’s all about expressing these kinds of intellectual emotional guttural feelings. Mainstream film and media is one of the major contributors to culture and hence architecture. Since Film and Architecture are the major two art forms that give and take back from culture. This dissertation tries to answer, if there are spaces which are specially designed to evoke particular emotion or feeling through art movement films.

keywords: Fear in expressionist films, Film noir, Film Set design of German Expressionism






1.1 Topic

1.2 Inter- Relation Between Film And Architecture

1.2 Research Question

1.3 Aim

1.4 Objective

1.5 Scope

1.6 Limitations

1.7 Research Methodology/ Framework


2.1 Literature Survey

2.1.1 Evolution of Cine-Architecture

2.1.2 Film Set

2.2 The Film Movements around the world

2.3 What is a Movement?

2.4 What is Expressionism in Cinema?



3.1.1 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari


3.2.1 Nosferatu

3.2.3 Metropolis






Fear in German Expressionist Films through Film Set Design.


Film and architecture are two different ART FORMS AND CULTURAL PRODUCTS. They are always two different ways, where you will meet at a junction in between the way of two different cities. The process of film making and architecture travels on same bus but with two different motives to live in this world. The film making process is very refreshing from conceptual stage of any story line to the end product of the film making. Architecture is very exciting, finding the new innovations of the people living in the spaces that you created and thinking out of the box. These both meet at a point where architecture is needed in film and film stories inspire architects to design. In films architecture is directly interpreted but in architecture the film concepts are hidden behind the conceptual stage only. As we all know people do inspire, relate, feel, understand both architecture and film.

“Architecture is a visual art, and the building speaks for themselves”. (Julia Morgan)

Architecture exists, like cinema, in the dimension of time and space. Everyone reads and understands a building in an order. To build a building one need to attempt and understand the relation and impact through which they passes. It is that the architect of the building works with frames and openings of the built form, cuts and edits of the design. Meanwhile cinema survives like architecture, in the measurement of scale and moment. We receive and experience cinema in terms of a hidden concept. To make a film, one need to predict the effect on society and result of the film on people. The film maker works with concept and structure, design and construction.

The visual medium of the film should convey that style has always played an important role in cinema. It s one of the reasons why film and architecture have gone hand in hand for the past hundred years. In some sense, the two mediums show correlative qualities; film as photography catches the auxiliary components of designing, while an architectural plan tries to create artistic space.


What is the role of Set Design in conveying the Fear in German expressionist films?

1.3 AIM:

The primary aim of this study would be to understand the spaces designed to evoke a particular emotion that we see in films only, not in real world. The secondary aim is to analyze that whether those spaces are desirable or not in real world.


1. To understand how architecture is interpreted to generate the feeling that director wants to show to the audience.

2. To understand cine architecture through the German expressionist films.

1.5 SCOPE:

This dissertation would be based on the observation and analysis of the two art forms. The main purpose of the work is to analyze the products of the two great art forms i.e., movies and architecture, which are actually spaces. The study attempts to understand these spaces, their character and the elements, which actually define spaces.

The analysis of space and their characters would include the procedure, which actually create this space-time frame. Since any art has boundaries and the principles on whom they thrive are universal, therefore examples taken up in this study would be universal.

The reaction of people towards what they see. What director hope to achieve by what they put on screen. How they can manipulate the way people think and perceive their surroundings.

The basis of selecting case studies is their effective demonstration of the concerned objectives. The critical analysis and conclusion shall stress on the need to study this relation of film and architecture and further more between film-architecture and architecture.


Since both film and architecture are limitless in their scope of work and research . It cannot be done with elaborately, especially considering the time frame of the research. The choice of films for case studies is also taken as per research information. Focus point of the research should narrowed down to limit the scope of research.



Film Architecture

The second step would be the preliminary reading, which would be to collect published materials and retrieve information through published critiques in different books, magazines and journals from various libraries of the city.

Understanding findings related to the topic.

Mostly the topic concentrates on “German Expressionist Films”

Primary and Secondary Research:

Case Examples that will be included are selected over wide range of choices through various criteria in decreasing order of importance as follows:

o Relevance to the topic,

o Influence on the real world,

o Popularity in the genre,

o Contextual Accuracy,

o Visual Quality.

Primary Case studies on “German Expressionist Films”

o The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari

Secondary Case studies on “German Expressionist Films”

o Nosferatu

o Metropolis


Methodology involves the identification of spatial character of the spaces that are shown in the films and indentifying the present day movies that are mostly influenced by German Expressionism.

Case studies are selected for the categories:

Film selected are only at the time period of German Expressionism Movement started.



Analysis and Conclusion:

Films that are influenced by German Expressionism are also studied. And also explained how did the directors influenced by the German expressionist films.

Analysis and extract of research




2.1.1 Evolution Of Cinema Architecture

After exploring enough fields of current phenomena, “from THEATRE to FILM” a history of set design, an article by Sam Watson on 7th December 2010 explains you the exact scenario of the evolution of the Film Set Design.

The interplay of cinema and architecture, the basic architecture of cinematic expression, and the cinematic essence of architectural experience, both are equally many-sided. Both art forms are produced with help of a specialist, co-workers and assistants. Irrespective of their unavoidable nature as the goods of collective attempt, each movie and design are arts of the auteur, of the character inventive writer. Filmmaking is art as illusion. The filmmaker’s aim is to make the audience involve and believe in the fictional world that he has created. The world could be very similar to our personal or an inventive myth land. But all the elements of that world from the buildings to the cars and the contents of the man or woman’s refrigerator in the film need to work together to tell a fairy tale. So the film maker tries to bring the fictional world that he has thought off in his story into real world. The world we live has a definite architecture.

The Ancient Greeks, around the 5th century BC, were the first to have painted scenery. On wooden screens, scenery was painted which was more realistic than illusionistic. The Romans, who more or less absorbed Greek culture and made it their own, were the first to use painted structures, such as windows, balconies, realistic columns, and rocks. It is important to give priority that these huge structures were also functional and well designed, as in windows could be opened, an actor could lean against a column, etc. The Romans were also the first to use curtains. In modern theatre, curtains are played a significant role as the signal to end of a scene or act, hide set changes. In such situations where a set change needs to take place, but the play is still going action wise, the actors can act in front of the curtain while the set is being changed behind the curtain.

The Renaissance is really considered the genesis of modern theatrical design for several reasons. The most important is Filippo Brunelleschi’s discovery in 1415 is how to create illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. Though some of the architects, like Sebastiano Serlio in 1545, experimented to create a slope staged floor to in order to get the illusion of depth, Brunelleschi’s method succeed and is still used today. The painted drop also began to be used during this period, and in 1608, Ingo Jones began ramming scenes with the use of a proscenium arch. Up until this point, the philosophy concerning scene design was basically that, the scene location was obvious, unimportant, or stated in a character s lines. During the 19th century, designers really worked hard to produce as realistic environments as budget and time allowed. Set designs become to be three-dimen sional instead of two-dimensional, this happened mostly because of the invention of theatre lighting. Beginning in 1810 in Germany, there has been a motion to position on traditionally accurate performances with emphasis on historically correct scenery. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the flat stage floor turned into damaged up structures, ramps, and stairs, and theatrical lights was altered all through the play with a purpose to assist establishment of mood and drama.

The end of the 19th century gave a massive push and shift to the philosophy of scene design due to the birth of cinema. where in cinema can seize dramatic movement in the field, theatre is frequently constrained to an indoor space with a stay audience. So, in response to the new industry, set designers started out moving away from realistic illusion to symbolism, the bold abstraction that depicts nothing, however as a substitute evokes a mood and environment.

When films are not being shot on location, they are often being shot on a studio back lot or sound stages. Like theatrical stages, they were designed and built such a way that they can be disassembled for either traveling or storage purposes. Beginning , the cinema set designs were designed and constructed very similar to theatrical sets. Where the backdrops were painted and intentionally made false perspective and tilted buildings paintings were still in use. But still the architecture of the cinema set designs themselves was still very theatrical. By the 1930 s, however, serious consideration was given to the relationship between the set and the framing of camera shots.

In film, the camera only shoots what the director wants to show to the audience. The materials and textiles with certain textures used in cinema set design began to reflect and give priority to certain characteristics of the character in the film. Also set designers in Germany, started to show the structures in the film that they were not built in real world but constructed to capture certain camera shots. By the 1970 s, the designing of the cinema set was designing keeping in mind with both camera framing and emotion of the scene and characters. In the beginning these types of set designs, during the German Expressionist movement fulfilled their potential. In the 1927 film Metropolis, sets designed by Otto Hunte, Enrich Kettelhut, and Karl Volbrecht were used to reflect the differences between the elite ruling class and the oppressed working classes.

Anyone on this earth can imagine of what they had seen, heard , read. Film maker tries to think and generate new things that world haven’t seen before. There are film maker who introduced new worlds to this world like Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise and many others. To bring this fictional world into real, filmmaker tries to produce a path or follow a definite architecture or they design their own architecture. Most recently we can in the film ‘Bahubali’, director SS Rajamouli designed an imaginative kingdom named ‘Mahishmati’.

“cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out” (Martin Scorsese)

As martin said cinema is always matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out. We see just a drop in the ocean. But the output of the film tastes like a spoon of salt in an Indian curry. At the most basic level, architecture and cinema have natural inbuilt affinities. Plan-construction; script-production; architects and film directors proceed down parallel routes to create their work. Both film and architecture crave upon a monumental scale of production involving through planning, substantial amount of finance to accomplish the desired project.

This is precisely the beauty of many films which features the built environment, they have the power to influence the viewer’s perception and even evoke the desire for an improved architectural environment. By increasing our understanding of the relationship between films and architecture, we are enhancing our ability to express via architectural elements our complex ideas and vision on cities.

2.1.2 Film Set

The sets give the opportunity to the director to create a perfect visual environment for his story line. These created space give the director a free hand to express the story in the way he wants to. Moreover it takes a lot of time, money and pain to search for a perfect location matching the story line and then to take the entire unit there. Also when the sets are built in the covered studios, the director can control some very important elements like light and sound, and also it protects the shooting from the unpredictable weather. One more advantage of using sets is the possibility of depicting situations that are futuristic and quite out of this world. In such case there is no location which satisfies the demands of the script. In such a case the sets become inevitable.

Since film making is mainly a visual medium, everything that comes and plays on the screen plays an important role in conveying us the information about who the characters are and what their world is like. The human brain processes visual cues faster than verbal information. Totally there are 24 crafts of the film making process i.e., (Direction, Production, Editing, Art Direction etc,.) Since set designing is the one of the major craft of the filmmaking process, each and every art director/ production designer/ director tries to prove himself to get the best output in order to fulfill the need of the film. We still don’t believe that some movies had been shot under huge sets and some of them doesn’t look like sets. Any emotion of the scene in the movie don’t touch the soul of the audience without the perfect visual treat. Cinematic movies are almost gives visual treat to audience and the sets made for an emotional scene convinces the audience to feel the same as the director felt when he/she wrote the story scene.

Virtual film set is design on computer but it also need a great effort to fill the bottle exactly with a final drop of hard work. Basically virtual film set is designed based on the story and brief of the scene. In virtual set design we have a great freedom to create whatever we want according to the storyline comparatively real set construction. Set design (real and virtual) have to be design and constructed. It has a procedure similar to architecture. There are various stages of film set designing and construction. Set designing of any cinema should tell us the most basic and good principles of set design and use of space. It should be visually attractive for the audience or should articulate the show’s concept.

The theatre transforms us into another world, a world which is similar to us, with same recognizable elements and spaces. We feel the same trees, houses, city, same faces and the same situations and slowly but surely it absorbs us in its own domain and for few hours we are in other world, in other time frame, the present real world.

Set construction is the responsibility of the art department, which is typically largest and important craft of the film. After the basic structure of the film set is built, the set needs to decorate with the appliances, furniture, carpet, wallpaper, the paintings frames hanging on the wall, each and every corner of the film set literally every object in the set. Set decorator should have the skill for fashion and interior design, however he/she should also have the capacity to find items that say something about a individual character and make a contribution to the story. Film making is a commercial enterprise. Each movie has a budget and the dimensions of that price range dictates some of the maximum essential decisions related to set production. The Set designer and the director need to determine out the nice manner to attain their inventive goals with the cash it truly is available.


With the invention of the movie camera and the projector, pioneering film makers made films and screened them publicly to a wonderstruck audience who found the experience of seeing life like moving images on a white screen bathed in translucent silver light, magical and amazing. So began a long journey of the dream makers and dream merchants and a mesmerized audience glued to the enchantment of the silver screen.

But once the initial fascination with the technological novelty wore off, filmmakers and others interested in the sociology of the phenomenon of filmmaking and cinema began to study this new mode of expression.

Theoretical formulations about how films are seen and shown, how cinematic meaning is created and how cinema could be used to express specific intensions began to influence film makers and movie goers. A student of film studies can discern historically phases when films makers made films that were similar in style of expression and concern and which seemed to follow from a particular set of beliefs and convictions both about the art form as well as the themes and subjects that were expressed. These phases in filmmaking have been recognized as film movements.


The word `movement has many meanings. We may define it as the actions of a group of individuals with common beliefs, ideas and philosophy, trying to achieve certain goals. Movements can be social, political, religious or cultural and the actions could be in form of street protests, underground activity, literary activity, painting, philosophy and also filmmaking. Film movements have been characterized by a set of filmmakers who express through the film form a set of common beliefs, ideas and understandings about the individual and the society.

A film movement is a stream of films generally following a particular trend in cinema of the time. most trending movements in cinema are regional but affect world cinema. those films have cultural origins normally motivated via country wide tragedy, popular subculture, or social issues.

Innovative techniques were invented to experiment the filming styles. Editing boundaries were pushed hard at that times to give a unique and special identity to these films. These experimental impact Hollywood and are very essential in not simplest the records however additionally the future of cinema. There is one of the best film movement where architecture played an important and a major role, totally changed the perception of the filmmakers who are still searching for options to explore which is “German Expressionism” film movement where the author wants to concentrate and there is lot of scope to learn and observe from this film movement regarding film and architecture both ways simultaneously.

Fig: 1.1 Dr.Caligari and his shadow (directors point of view the monster is hidden in Dr.Caligari)

German expressionism was an art movement that gave birth in and around1910 risen up in architecture, theatre and art. Expressionism art typically expressed the exact situation of the world from a subjected point of view and thus tried to show a distorted and tilted view of this world to bring out a certain mood or idea or emotion in the people. The emotional bondage and meaning of the object is what mainly concentrated on by the artist and not the physical properties of the reality. While already making waves in the art world, expressionism would really come into its own when expressed in cinema. While there is already rising level in the art world, where expressionism came into its own path when it is explored and expressed in cinema.


Expressionist films could use atmospheric lights, tilted camera angles and highlighting many gadgets and characters with the use of excessive evaluation between darkish and light. The plots that featured in German expressionism were typically focused on insanity, identity of one s self and madness. When all these aspects were brought together the result was usually a dark film with plenty of subtext to them.

Experimentations in special effects, the process of set designs and lighting are some of the major techniques that the expressionism film movement brought to world during the 1920’s. Due to the high concepts expressionism art asked many directors, cameramen, and lighting technicians to learn new techniques and methods to get different styles and themes of the film onto the screen.

Expressionism reached its top by the mid 1920 s in Germany, many filmmakers came into existence releasing many films at a time with different titles. Two out of the three films made in Germany at this time period had the elements of expressionism art within themselves.



3.1.1The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Released in 1920, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has been marked as the outstanding example of German expressionist cinema. The most extraordinary element of the director Robert Wiene s horror masterpiece is the style and tone of the film, which made the German people both horrified and enthralled. Today modern critics and audience are still hypnotized by the set designs and tone of Dr. Caligari. The plot follows the dark and twisting storyline of the mysterious Dr. Caligari who is the main character, uses a somnambulist to commit murder in the villages he travels.

The world in which Wiene showed to us in Dr. Caligari is one of the darkest and uncertain. To achieve this darkness, set designer Hermann Warm decided to paint most of the background properties instead of constructing them. This technique gives the film an artificial and unnatural mood and feel.

The streets of the town spiral off into the distance where as they are heading nowhere. The buildings and surrounding landscape are bent and curved, with many of these features all of sudden cutting off into sharp angles. Warm s approach to the design of the film gives it a fairy-tale feel in the vein of a Brothers Grimm tale. Director Wiene choose to have shadows directly painted on the canvas of the set instead of producing them with light. Many scenes contain artificial shadows that spread out across the set and absorb the characters. The use of artificial shadow and the titled buildings give the look that the town would fall down by itself at time. This gives the present situation of the world outside.

Fig: 1.2 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) (The main street of the town Holstenwall)

In addition to this nightmare world, characters represents themselves as something they are not. The narrative of Dr. Caligari is also created into pieces, which leads the audience into the feeling that all is not right in this world. It is truly a world of mental illness and fear that Wiene showed to us.

Many film academies have pointed out how Dr. Caligari can be read as Germany s post-war anxiety and situation of the world, which tells us throughout the film not only in the storyline but also through visual medium, the design and theme of the film. In a summary Dr. Caligari is a marked example of expressionism art work especially in cinema and shows why it worked so well in silent film.

As the film move forward, the horrible landscape of Holstenwall town (Fig:1.1) can be seen as a representation of the characters psyche. Since the film being a silent one, expressionistic art is a perfect way of projecting these special themes due to the lack of dialogues. This is how the director and the art director represented the set design. The character explains us the small town where the Dr. Caligari lives and he started narrating the whole life and how the city looks like and all. (Fig:1.1) Represents the darkness of the city and people on the globe and the world at that time.

Fig:1.3 Landscape of Holstenwall town Fig:1.4 Town President Office

The scene (Fig:1.2) where caligari comes to town president, to take permission for his shop in trade fair. The space design that the director tries to show the world inside the film is totally differetn from the present world, where we see staright walls. But the room was cornered with acute angles and furniture was quite impressive, that the set designer also tried hard to create such furniture designs and the director presents the higher officials outside of the film are placed themselves at top and rest of the world is under their control at the time of post worldwar I.

German Expressionist painters refused the naturalistic depiction of objective reality, frequently representing distorted figures, buildings, and landscapes in a disorienting look that ignored the tradition of perspective and proportion. This path, lead the combination of tilted, stylized shapes and harsh, unnatural colors, were used to convey subjective emotions.

Fig:1.5 Crime Scene of Town Clerk FIg:1.6 Police station entry stairway

The Crime Scene (Fig:1.3) gives the perfect details about the architectural elements that are shown in the scene. The windows are tilted and palced in a certain way to evoke the terrifying emotion in the minds of audience. The way the light and shodow from the window is drawn is typically designed and placed throughout the film. The entrance of the police station in the town (Fig: 1.4) clearly shows the light and shadow, the shadows were drawn on the floor itself to give a false perspective. This scene also explains the exact emotion and tension of the characters about the crime mystery and the sadness of the character’s life.

Fig: 1.7 The main Street of the town Holstenwall Fig:1.8 Cesare somnambulist killing a woman

(Fig:1.6) This still explains the how the set designers worked hard to design the street which reflects the psychology of the world outside the film. The director succeed in conveying the emotion of the film to the audience throughtout the film visually. (Fig:1.7) This still reflects the fear through the shadow on the wall, this is the major scene where the killier is revealed and that gives you the whole picture of the narrative. The author found that this scene scared him alot while watching becasue of the shadow and the perfecti position of the camera angle and the light played an important role in conveying the emotion throughout the scene.

There are few filmmakers and artists who contributed a lot to this film movement, where they succeed expressing their views about the world situation. They are F.W. Murnau (Director of NOSFERATU), Fritz Lang (Director of METROPOLIS), G.W. Pabst, Robert Wiene are renowned directors of some of the German Expressionism films. Notable Films in existence today: Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror and Metropolis .


3.2.1 Nosferatu (1922)

Released in 1922, F.W. Murnau s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is another major example of expressionism work in cinema. Murnau s film is based on Bram Stoker s classic horror novel Dracula. But the characters names were substituted because the producer couldn’t able to get the rights for a film adaptation.

The frightening story of the vampire Count Orlok s journey to find Ellen Hutter, a woman he has become obsessed with, this story became one of cinemas most acknowledged stories.

Murnau s approach towards the German Expressionist style in Nosferatu is positively more subtle than Dr. Caligari. While the plot is implanted in fantasy, the setting and landscape of the Nosferatu is a scenery that the audience will indentify. within these natural scenery that Murnau tries to present beautiful expressionist scenes.

The forest of Count Orlok s castle is mysterious and unsettling, When Hutter arrives at Orlok s castle it doesn t seem to contain much wildlife. The castle is run down and is angled upon the hill it sits on. The scene is one of ruin and isolation. When the hutter entered the castle the shadows on the ground inside of the castle seen and submerging like liquid most of the courtyard. After that the Hutter walks and see the Count Orlok who awaits on the other side.

Fig: 1.9 The shadow of the Count Orlok in Nosferatu movie: Fig: 2.0 The shadow of the killer in Psycho Movie

The most iconic scene (Fig:1.8) in Nosferatu is a pure practice and example in expressionistic art and an fantastic example on the use of shadow in expressionism films. The scene especially represents the shadow of Count Orlok crawling up the stairs is a major and important example of the use of shadows. It gives a further approach to the storyline throughout the cinema. This scene is still being imitated and presented in a different way until today but the original has that uniqueness to stand against all till today. Light and Shadow is different in different architectural space and context and background. In this scene the director portrayed the scene in a way that the audience should be scared after watching this scene. This worked well and stood one of the major scene in the history of cinema and represented the expressionism art primarily.

This scene (Fig: 1.9) explains how did the director of the film PSYCHO used the expressionism art perfectly. So that this scene also stood on the major scene in the records of Alfred Hitchcock filmography. In 1924, When he was sent to the UFA Babelsberg Studios in Berlin on the film The Blackguard by Gainsborough Pictures to work as an assistant director and art director. After working there Alfred Hitchcock learnt a lot and implemented the techniques and observation in his films through the set design. Hitchcock later said, “I…acquired a strong German influence by working at the UFA studios in Berlin”.

Fig: 2.1 The space design is similar to Dr.Caligari film; Fig:2.2 The stairs used to get the fear emotion similar

to Nosferatu film

After that German expressionism influenced Hitchcock badly throughout his career. In his third film THE LODGER, Hitchcock implemented the German expressionist style of filmmaking through set designs, camera work, lighting techniques etc,. against the studio that he is at present to the British people. His innovation through visual medium has included the scene (Fig: 2.1) of a man walking on the stairs and the camera angles is from below the stairs. This style of working and influence of expressionism followed throughout his career, especially in the film PSYCHO in 1960, where Norman Bates’ is shown behind the shower curtain as a shadow (Fig: 1.9) similar to the scene in NOSFERATU where the shadow of the Dracula shown on the wall. Hitchcock film making process and style influenced many modern world film makers and also attracted them to use the style and know more about German Expressionist films, techniques frequently.

3.2.2 Metropolis (1927)

Several German film were released during the early 20th century influenced by expressionism. Among them mainly the first film that impacted most of the film history is Robert Wiene’s 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Meanwhile Metropolis is one of the major film after the film Dr.Caligari but still it stood as the expressionist film even though it did not contain much of the German expressionist imagery as early films like Dr.Caligari, it’s themes are more similar to the soul of expressionism. This doesn’t say that the Metropolis film is not sufficient in expressionism imagery, in fact, many scenes, such as the opening sequence of the film, are heavy in expressionist imagery.

Metropolis storyline is totally a backdrop in the dystopian future world where as the film is ahead of 100 years which is in the year of 2026 since the film was made in the year of 1926. The city itself divided in to two parts where as the upper city is allotted to the higher class and the lower city is allotted to the lower class people. The lower class people spend more time with the machines and keeping the city running and staying there almost throughout their life.

Fig: 2.3 Throne of the city ruler Fig: 2.4 Futuristic City landscape

The story line of the film is one day the son of the city rules forgets his way while chasing the a girl and reaches one of the machine room of the lower city. There he sees an accident where the accident was done by a largest machine as demonic beast at one point, he shouts “Moloch!” in horror. After this accident, he come back to the city and explains to the father what he had seen at lower city.

Fig: 2.5 The largest machine as demonic beast Fig: 2.6 Ruler son’s expression after seeing the beast

But expressionism was no longer by the time that the Metropolis released. But the expressionist influence and representation can be observed in this film. Even though the plot and storyline was futuristic the film maker tried to follow the tradition of the expressionist look. Expressionism highly influenced this film as the film itself show the expressionist look in terms of acting, set design and cinematography and theme. This film shows a different perspective of the world where the film Dr.Caligari and this is totally different and represents same real world in two different perspective. Since the architectural space design is totally futuristic and many architects inspired from this film.


Various European cultures of tried very hard to change the worlds perspective to look into the future by inventing new ideas, bold looks and experimenting with new artistic styles. The first Expressionist film set designs was made of painted canvas and clothes. Since at that time period they do not have a huge budget to produce films. So they tried to create the set design which are not realistic , tilted geometry where the walls are painted with design and floors were painted to represent lights, shadows, and objects. The storyline of the film were always written with madness, insanity, betrayal almost related to the effects of World War I as opposed to standard action-adventure and romantic films. After that the films were often recognized as the part of the great history of German Expressionism include Metropolis (1927) and M (1931) both directed by Fritz Lang. This situation of expressing things was a direct reaction against realism. People who tried to show this used most extreme distortions in order to express their inner real feeling rather than what was on the surface.

Fig: 2.7 Upper city in Metropolis (1926); Fig:2.8 Gotham City in Batman Returns (1992)

Fig: 2.8 The Comparison between Cesare from the movie called The Cabinet f Dr.Caligari and Jonny Depp from the movie called Edward Scissor hands. These both characters looks like same and the director Tim Burton was greatly influenced by German expressionism where he always tried to express the themes of German expressionism to get the fear and horror emotion in his films.

Fig2.9 This still clearly show you that the director alex proyas was inspired by the movie Metropolis and the way the Metropolis movie presents the world in a horrifying way , similarly alex was expressed the horror emotion through the theme that German Expressionism followed.

Fig : 2.9 Cesare and Jonny Depp with their costume.

Fig: 3.0 The Comparison of Dark City (1998) and the largest machine the movie Metropolis (1926)

Fig: 3.1 The Shadow of Orlok and the Shadow of Vincent. The same type of theme is still used for fear emotion in horror films.


German Expressionism stood out of the box and contributed extremely large amount to cinema. Inventing different techniques and experimenting the from direction department to set designing, twisting plot line and many other aspects of film making, it left out the footprints throughout the history of cinema.

Even today German expressionism is still influencing the modern filmmakers to invent the new ideas and techniques. Tim Burton films are perfect examples of influential films of German expressionism. He always point out expressionism in his work. It is nearly a hundred years old but still it is inspiring film makers around the globe.

German Expressionism greatly influenced the genres like horror and film noir extremely. Lon Chaney’s The Phantom of the Opera title given Carl Laemmle and Universal Studios for producing such horror films throughout the silent era. German filmmakers such as Karl Freund (the cinematographer for Dracula in 1931) set the style and mood of the Universal monster movies of the 1930s with their dark and artistically designed sets, providing a model for later generations of horror films. Directors such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Carol Reed and Michael Curtiz introduced the Expressionist style to crime dramas of the 1940s, expanding Expressionism’s influence on modern filmmaking.

All the films that the author analyzed gives explanation about Set Design in conveying particular emotion and all German Expressionist directors succeed in trying to evoke certain emotion in the audience. The Filmmakers tried to create spaces which totally out of the box and spaces which represent real world to show the situation of the world and Reflecting the state that Germany was in, Lang was able to use this film as propaganda. By creating this futuristic otherworld, he was able to entertain the audience while underlying a message that the heart can fix all things. It gave the audience a sense of hope, for if this alternate world portrayed in the film can be fixed, so can Germany. It helped society realize that by putting aside their differences, a stronger, more unified nation can be created. The artist, filmmakers succeeded in the change of culture and architecture people generally think and they were succeeded in giving the feeling about world and still the movies tries to scare people with those spaces with dark light and shadow. Filmmakers still follow the same process to convey the fear emotion in films. Finally Set Design played an important role in conveying the fear emotion in German Expressionism and till present day Set Design is one of the major tool that every film maker can use to convey particular emotion.


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