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The Gorgon's Gaze: German Cinema, Expressionism, and the Image of Horror

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This interdisciplinary study of recurrent themes in German cinema as it has developed since the early twentieth century focuses on pertinent films of the pre- and post-World War II eras. The author explores the nature of expressionism, which is generally agreed to have ended with the advent of sound, and its persistence in the styles of such modern masters of film noir as This interdisciplinary study of recurrent themes in German cinema as it has developed since the early twentieth century focuses on pertinent films of the pre- and post-World War II eras. The author explores the nature of expressionism, which is generally agreed to have ended with the advent of sound, and its persistence in the styles of such modern masters of film noir as Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman. In considering the possibility of homologies between the necessary silence of pre-sound cinema and the widespread modernist aspiration to an aesthetic of silence, Coates relates theories of the sublime, the uncanny, and the monstrous to his subject. He also reflects upon problems of representability and the morality of representation of events that took place during the Nazi era.


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This interdisciplinary study of recurrent themes in German cinema as it has developed since the early twentieth century focuses on pertinent films of the pre- and post-World War II eras. The author explores the nature of expressionism, which is generally agreed to have ended with the advent of sound, and its persistence in the styles of such modern masters of film noir as This interdisciplinary study of recurrent themes in German cinema as it has developed since the early twentieth century focuses on pertinent films of the pre- and post-World War II eras. The author explores the nature of expressionism, which is generally agreed to have ended with the advent of sound, and its persistence in the styles of such modern masters of film noir as Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman. In considering the possibility of homologies between the necessary silence of pre-sound cinema and the widespread modernist aspiration to an aesthetic of silence, Coates relates theories of the sublime, the uncanny, and the monstrous to his subject. He also reflects upon problems of representability and the morality of representation of events that took place during the Nazi era.

36 review for The Gorgon's Gaze: German Cinema, Expressionism, and the Image of Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Wallace

    This cross-cultural exploration of horror, Fascism, and the other residue of the expressionist era is tough sledding. Although the themes it explores -- duality and dopplegangers, the inversion of external and interior states, the man/machine dichotomy -- are of great interest and it touches on some of my favorite films, I found that the author's style so undercut his insights as to make whole chapters unreadable or, in some cases, silly. The style is a sort of stream-of-pretentiousness spray of This cross-cultural exploration of horror, Fascism, and the other residue of the expressionist era is tough sledding. Although the themes it explores -- duality and dopplegangers, the inversion of external and interior states, the man/machine dichotomy -- are of great interest and it touches on some of my favorite films, I found that the author's style so undercut his insights as to make whole chapters unreadable or, in some cases, silly. The style is a sort of stream-of-pretentiousness spray of notions from whatever critical school happens to be at hand, structuralist, feminist, counter-feminist, Marxist, or -- most fatally -- Freudian. I generally find Freudian criticism ridiculous and the ultimate reduction of Western collapse to castration anxiety doesn't improve my opinion. I'm not sorry I took the ride though, because there are some fine passages here and I've been pointed toward films I might not know about otherwise that I will likely enjoy watching. The central goal of the book, understanding how and why a few years of German silent cinema influenced so much later culture, is also one worth pursuing and this collection of linked essays is a start at taking a deeper look than the superficial ones usually on offer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    joseph m

    Could it be that the film’s relentlessly archaic look functions as an alibi, enabling a current social pathology to be expounded on the assumption that it be disavowed through representation as a thing of the past? Is the projection of past into present, and vice versa, a device to demonstrate The stultifying changelessness of the bourgeoisie world?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina Goodson

  4. 5 out of 5

    Phil Dyess-Nugent

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hedvig

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Hyman

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen Barclay

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan Humphrey

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  11. 4 out of 5

    Phil

  12. 4 out of 5

    Icy Sedgwick

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Finch

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  15. 5 out of 5

    Asem

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rob Same

  17. 4 out of 5

    joaquim

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Smith

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex Wayong

  22. 4 out of 5

    Siddartha

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dani

  26. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

  27. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chloë

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adi Robertson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean Stevens

  31. 5 out of 5

    Сергей Бережной

  32. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie McGarrah

  33. 4 out of 5

    Suzana

  34. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandra Rosa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  36. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

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