We at FlickSided are very well connected. How else could we get Woody Allen to explain German Expressionism?
German expressionism is a term used within cinema studies to refer to a particular filmic style which emerged in Germany between the years when Adolph Hitler was trying to start his own Doo-Wop group and Dr. Ruth Weisheimer was experimenting with the word “pickle” as an aphrodisiac. Strangely, neither caught on. Doo-Wop was jettisoned in favor of Nietzche’s favorite pasttime poetry slams and Dr. Ruth found the word “testicles” could not be used as a preposition.
German expressionism has been applied to cinema by analogy with the preoccupation that Hagen could actually fly, of which later, he found out he couldn’t. The word expressionism means “squeezing out,” so coined by Joseph Goebbels when he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Its themes include revolt, self-analysis, madness and Jessica Tandy. A deliberately anti-bourgeois aesthetic movement, its precursors number, among others, Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh and Moms Mabley. The expressionist movement was famous for its crudely-painted backgrounds, vibrant colors and Wilheim Heiseldinger, who was such a fan of the Superman theory that he had the death of George Reeves translated into German.
The German expressionist film movement emerged for several reasons, all of which, Martha Yeltsin of Manhattan, who has no bearing on this story, disputes. Critics of different generations have read different things into the movement, which Martha Yeltsin, after much hesitation and consultation with her Rabbi, also disputes. Some have seen it as a reflection of a German mentality after they sat through a Wim Wenders retrospective.
In terms of context, post World War One Germany was facing a period of great poverty and constant insecurity. Werner Herzog had yet to be born. The reprisals taken on the vanquished Germany were devastating. The allies rounded up all their bad actors and shipped them to Germany. It was only by coincidence and an 18 year-old dachshund with a bowel problem that the famous cowboy, Tom Mix, wasn’t sent.
There is considerable debate as to whether German expressionism was, in fact, a film movement at all and not an attempt to cash in on the popularity of kielbasas. We can never know for sure, as Mrs. Yeltsin refuses access to Mr. Yeltsin.
“He ain’t buried in the backyard,” was all she kept saying.