Definition of Expressionism?

Expressionism is the movement in the fine arts that emphasized the expression of one’s inner self and their angst rather than solely being realistic and fanboyish about the world and life”. It is the expression of a person though art, music and drama, that can be in a form of written text, painting or film. “Expressionism is a term that embraces an early 20th century style of art, music and literature that is charged with an emotional and spiritual vision of the world”.

Examples of Expressionist Art, with stills to demonstrate.


EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
‘The Scream’, 1893 (oil, tempera and pastel on board)

“I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun set. I felt a tinge of melancholy. Suddenly the sky became a bloody red. I stopped, leaned against the railing, dead tired. And I looked at the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and city. My friends walked on. I stood there, trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.”


‘Madchen aus Kowno’, 1918 (woodcut)

Putting our faith in a new generation of creators and art lovers, we call upon all youth to unite. And being youth, the bearers of the future, we want to wrest from the comfortably established older generation freedom to live and move. Anyone who directly and honestly reproduces that force which impels him to create belongs to us.’

Examples besides The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, with stills to demonstrate. 

Metropolis (1927): “In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.”


Nosferatu (1922): Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter’s wife. Silent classic based on the story “Dracula.

nosferatu_by_ryansd-d3fxvvs nosferatu

Why is The Cabinet of Dr Caligari an example of an expressionist film? Use stills to demonstrate. 

After losing the war against Britain, Germany, on its way to get back on its feet, developed several meaningful art pieces and films. Several germans could express their feelings, intellect and perspective on the world and what just happened, through expressional art and film. These german artists and directors were showing the world how they felt and how they have made progress to recover. Most of the german artists developed paintings like the ones below, and the german directors developed such films as ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’, an example of an expressionalist film as it represents the corruption of death and fear in the world, during the first world war and through out life it self, with the theme of horror and murders. The setting, and how it is displayed, shows how the world is uneven and distort as the walls, doors and total structure of the buildings are slanted in various different ‘cutting’ (sharp) angles. The film is totally based on personal expression, the definition of expressionist film and art is for one to express his or her views on the world though a visual text, the basis of expression (it can be though audio as well). The technical way, of which the film is shot, is another reason why it is an example of an expressionist film as the actors and actresses portray the emotions of fear, as death is upon the town. Fear is expressed through out this film as the victims and public of the town are shown in a close up camera shot, expressing true and dramatic emotion for the viewers. [Have a look at the stills from the film, just below the expressionist art].

Expressionist Art:


(Feeling Trapped)



Expressionist Film: 


Jagged window, slanted walls and door


Several different angled walls


‘Odd’ looking rooftop: windows, walls and chimney


Murder scene: German expression of corrupt world/society
By trentwhitworth

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