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Regards sur le cinéma expressionniste, regards du cinéma expressionniste : esthétique et réception par la critique de cinéma allemande de Weimar

Abstract : Based on a corpus of eight german films made between 1920 and 1924 (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Genuine and Raskolnikow by Robert Wiene, Algol by Hans Werckmeister, Von morgens bis mitternachts and Das Haus zum Mond by Karlheinz Martin, Torgus/Verlogene Moral by Hanns Kobe and Das Wachsfigurenkabinett by Paul Leni), this thesis investigates the aesthetics and the reception of German expressionist film. Up until today, there is still some confusion over the definition of expressionist cinema. In order to identify constituent characteristics of its aesthetics, three areas of research are explored: the critical reception, the fantastic aesthetics and the self-reflexivity. The analysis of the first period of reception is based on a corpus of 225 mostly unpublished archival documents. These documents come from eight different film periodicals, mainly from the three leading trade journals of the early twenties: Der Kinematograph, Lichtbild-Bühne and Film-Kurier. By focusing on film reviews and on the first theories of aesthetics that preceeded Siegfried Kracauer's and Lotte Eisner's famous works on Weimar cinema, we get a sense of film critics' expectations back when the movies were first released. In the context of the debate about cinema and its artistic value, expressionism was perceived as the advent of film art, caracterised by the deliberate will of its contributors to create art. This ambition expresses itself through stylistic unity, a very distinctive conception of set designs and an opposition to Naturalism. Expressionist film is also perceived through the lense of the fantastic, which shows both the legacy of German romanticism and the importance of the renewal of fantastic literature and film in Germany. The film analysis of the present work aims at showing how the tension between the two poles of the fantastic is a constituent characteristic of the aesthetics of borders that caracterises expressionist film: it accounts for its narrative structure, its configuration of space and the ontologic reflexion it offers. Finally, cinema itself appears to be one of the main topics of these films. This is both the result of the artistic ambition of expressionist filmmakers and the explanation for their predilection for the fantastic: in some respect, films are fantasies, in that they manipulate the spectator and produce illusions. This is why spectatorship plays a major role in expressionist cinema: thanks to the notion of secondary screen, borrowed from the field of filmic enunciation, our analysis identifies characteristic representations of looks and gazes as well as of cinematic experiences, and reveals their relation to human desires.
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Tamara Eble. Regards sur le cinéma expressionniste, regards du cinéma expressionniste : esthétique et réception par la critique de cinéma allemande de Weimar. Littératures. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSEN085⟩. ⟨tel-01702686⟩

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