Friday, October 5, 2007

New Objectivity

As a reaction to German Expressionism, a new movement arose in the early 1920s called the New Objectivity or Neue Sachlichkeit. It represented everything that Expressionism rejected, favoring plain objects, an emphasis on secularism, and the rational as opposed to the supernatural. Artists such as Otto Dix and George Grosz were also heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement in art and design in both Europe and America. Art Deco complemented this style because of its emphasis on industry, geometry and balance. Other influences in this movement can be seen in the works of Fernand Leger and the Italian Futurists, who also preferred the cold precision of machines and industry to emotion and nature. Leger’s Ballet Mechanique (1924), with its "dance" of mechanical objects rather than human figures and its percussive, industrial score can clearly be seen as influential in the underground scenes in Metropolis depicting the rhythmic, steaming machines and their robotic workers.

Metropolis can be seen as a film incorporating both elements of Expressionism and New Objectivity. Thematically, the film aligns closest to expressionist film, however it is a visual blend between the two. Scenes depicting Rotwang’s Lab and the chapel underground are directly drawn from expressionist styles, whereas the cityscapes and the machines are derived from Art Deco and the New Objectivity. Lang claimed to have been inspired by the skyscrapers of New York when he envisioned Metropolis, but a number of paintings by George Grosz depict buildings extremely similar to those found in Metropolis.

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