The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt

Front Cover
University of California Press, Sep 29, 2008 - Performing Arts - 360 pages
The Golden Age of German cinema began at the end of the First World War and ended shortly after the coming of sound. From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari onwards the principal films of this period were characterized by two influences: literary Expressionism, and the innovations of the theatre directors of this period, in particular Max Reinhardt. This book demonstrates the connection between German Romanticism and the cinema through Expressionist writings. It discusses the influence of the theatre: the handling of crowds; the use of different levels, and of selective lighting on a predominately dark stage; the reliance on formalized gesture; the innovation of the intimate theatre. Against this background the principal films of the period are examined in detail. The author explains the key critical concepts of the time, and surveys not only the work of the great directors, such as Fritz Lang and F. W. Murnau, but also the contribution of their writers, cameramen, and designers. As The Times Literary Supplement wrote, 'Mme. Eisner is first and foremost a film critic, and one of the best in the world. She has all the necessary gifts.' And it described the original French edition of this book as 'one of the very few classics of writing on the film and arguably the best book on the cinema yet written.'

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Foreword to the English language edition
the Influence of Max Reinhardt
Lubitsch and the Costume Film
The Stylized Fantastic
Decorative Expressionism
The World of Shadows and Mirrors
Studio Architecture and Landscape
The Expressionist Début of a Realistic Director
Murnau and the Kammerspielfilm
The Handling of Crowds
The Fritz Lang Thriller
Tragedies of the Street
The Evolution of the Costume Film
The Climax of the Chiaroscuro
The Decline of the German Film

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Film critic, poet, and historian Lotte H. Eisner (1896-1983) was Chief Archivist for the French Cinematheque and a member of the French Légion d'honneur.

Bibliographic information