Monthly Archives: January 2013

Nosferatu (1922) – A German Expressionism Classic

The Shadow of Nosferatu Climbing Up the Stairs to Ellen's Room

The Shadow of Nosferatu Climbing Up the Stairs to Ellen’s Room

I was never a film connoisseur but the scene in The Artist where Valentin lifted blankets in Peppy ‘s mansion and was shocked to learn it was Peppy who purchased his auctioned effects has left a deep impression in me. Against the backdrop of a flood of light from the door, Valentin cast a long shadow on every objects he found, in his horror, to have belonged to him, including his self – portrait and the three wise monkeys clock. This use of light, shadow and familiar objects, I later found out, is known as German Expressionism.

Nosferatu is a classic German Expressionist movie directed by F.W. Murnau in 1922. The film is created when the new Weimar Republic just survived the Kapp Putsch in 1920 that paralyzed Berlin and was waiting to see Hitler’s Munich Putsch in 1923. In this politically unstable period, conspiracies were rampant. It was no surprise that many horror films like Faust or Dr. Mabuse at the time featured an evil conspirator who contrived for domination.

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Faust (1926) – F. W. Murnau’s Last German Movie

Faust (1926) - F. W. Murnau, Emil Jannings

Faust (1926) is F. W. Murnau last German movie before he moved to Hollywood for good. It was made between the famous Nosferatu, the horror masterpiece that defines the genre, and Sunrise, the last masterpiece of the silent era. It is a loose adaptation of Goethe’s play, which is also based on several variation of this classic German folklore about a man signing off his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and earthly pleasure in his lifetime.
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Life in Forbidden City: Eunuch

The second starting from the right is one of the narrators in Eunuch's Recollection

The second starting from the right is one of the narrators in Eunuch’s Recollection

In Puyi’s eyes, they were  ‘slaves’. In The Twilight of Forbidden City, Reginald Fleming Johnston, the first foreign Imperial Tutor, portrayed them as greedy creatures who contrived to suck the remaining wealth of the Qing monarchy. The new Chinese Republicans viewed them as grotesque relics of the feudal past.

Xin Xiuming, the late Qing eunuch, was right in saying ‘It seems the most suffering and least appreciated group of people is eunuchs’

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