Come one, come all

Aleksandrov and Simkov’s 1936 work of “Circus” combines the elements of farce, comedy, vaudeville, and melodrama in order to produce a ubiquitously enjoyable, light-hearted tale of heroism in the face of adversity laced with prominent themes of existing world politics and the Soviet socialist cause. The simple plot revolves mainly around the exploits of a fictitious American circus performer, Marion Dixon, and her engagements in love and peril as she tries to seek sanctuary in the Soviet Union in an attempt to escape the bigoted derision she faces in America at the cause of her being the mother to a black child.… Read the rest here

“To Catch Up and Overtake”

Watching Aleksandrov’s “Circus” it’s certainly hard to not notice the main message of the film, propaganda of national equality and tolerance among the soviet people. However, the plot itself is based on another interesting idea.

“To catch up and overtake [capitalists/America/etc]” is the slogan used for a really long time to explain the motivation of soviet people to work hard to reach the level of the Western countries and to be better then they are in everything.… Read the rest here

“Circus” and the Portrayal of Racism in the West

“Circus” is an exciting, dramatic movie from the 1930s. The main character, an American named Marion Dixon, escapes from America (specifically the South) during the era of Jim Crow laws, as she gave birth to a black child. Working in a circus in the Soviet Union, she conceals the knowledge of her child from almost everyone. In one of the final scenes of the movie, her manager (a German), storms into the ring with her child, attempting to disgrace her.… Read the rest here

Film in Weimar Germany

The excerpts from the primary source documents from the Weimar Republic show a Germany in reconstruction. The post war period for Germany was full of rough times of economic downturn and international repression; however the sources demonstrate a great national promise of growth a changing into modernity. Two, of many, very large themes within most of the works are the changing cultural identity of German people, and the modernization of the German state.

In many of the pieces discussing films or alternative forms of entertainment the “Future of the Feature Film in Germany” these themes are exemplified.… Read the rest here

Future of German Film

In Fritz Lang’s “The Future of Feature Film in Germany,” he describes the various forms of expression that were utilized in German film. Lang states that German filmmakers and directors continued to push the limits, and continued to push for creative success. He then argues that Germans, unlike Americans, had a special ability to create film that had a deeper meaning, and resonated with the audience.

When comparing this description to the films we have watched in class, it is clear that the intent of German filmmakers was to make the viewing experience thought-provoking for the audience.… Read the rest here

Metropolis’ Status in German Society

In 1927, Metropolis premiered to critical acclaim, citing both the incredible new film making techniques of Fritz Lang as well as its story, in light of recent political developments in Europe. While the film is seen as revolutionary movie in cinematography, it has undergone quite a few changes in the years since its original release in Berlin. I happened to watch the restored version (2010), which is the “most complete” version and is the one deemed closest to Lang’s original release.… Read the rest here

“The Mediator Between Head & Hands”

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is a 1927 German science fiction film displaying the heavy influence of the impressionist movement.  The film portrays a dystopian future society (the eponymous “Metropolis”) in which the laborers that maintain the mechanical operations of the city are relegated to an underground living space while the upper classes enjoy a comparative utopia above.  The city’s leader, Joh Fredersen, attempts to augment his power by using the newly invented Machine-Man, who is made to look like the prophetic character Maria, to incite a rebellion in the working class which will simultaneously cripple their underworld home and justify any further punitive measures that he wishes to take against the laborers.  … Read the rest here

Film as a New Leisure Activity

Based on the way The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari was set up, European cinema was establishing itself as the new form of art. Comparing it to Battleship Potemkin which came a few years after Dr. Caligari, there is a noticeable difference in the quality (and probably the budgets) when put side by side. Potemkin shows high quality film and excellent lighting; however it was backed by the state and most likely had a much higher budget than Dr.Read the rest here

Disillusionment and Fear Following WWI

Following the First World War, a sense of disillusionment fell over Europe, and Germany especially. In his 1920 film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene depicts the bewilderment of the German people after losing the war, as well as a general apprehension about change in the world. On the surface, Wiene’s film may seem like merely a horror movie, but it is, like all art, influenced by the ideas and events of the time, giving us a glimpse of interwar thinking.… Read the rest here