The Lessons of Cinematic Expressionism

Expressionism is a technique often associated with artistic endeavors in which an artistic work is meant to reflect an emotional experience opposed to an impression of reality. In cinema, this technique is often used by exaggerating the cinematic frame to heighten the emotional takeaway from the audience.

A case in point would be the opening scene to Tom Ford’s 2009 drama A Single Man. In that scene, George Falconer (portrayed by Colin Firth) is in deep mourning over the loss of his lover. He has a dream in which he comes upon the circumstances of his lover’s death, which involved a car crash. In the scene, everything from the Eduard Grau’s snowy cinematography to Abel Korzeniowski’s music score is heightening the emotional gravity of George’s feelings about his lover’s death, which are sorrowful and have left him in a state of suspended emptiness that he is forced to hide due to the unfair social expectations placed upon him.

In the following video I’ve created, I’ve tied together a number of films meant to convey the emotion of the many trials, troubles and difficulties life throws upon the individual, and our rocky reactions to them whether it be fear, hopelessness or the will to overcome despite it all. Using music, dialogue, visual changes and editing flourishes, this video is a lesson in cinematic expressionism.

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