A closeup shot on a hand. A view of a woman’s face, looking skeptical. A shot of two people, framed from the knees up. Students in the Secret Language of Film shared their scene drawings of stories and plots as they explored how the camera changes the way we tell stories. Using a wide variety of media, students presented their scene breakdowns, explaining why they chose certain shots, angles, facial expressions, angle of eye direction as they told their stories.
After the presentations, the class examined the impact of German expressionism on the development of cinema as an art form. F.W. Murnau’s “The Last Laugh,” from 1924 shows the exploration of inner life and a psychological and intellectual approach to the ideas depicted in German films made in the aftermath of World War I. These films were known for their deep shadows, tilting sets and high angles that show the angst of humanity in enigmatic, nightmarish scenes. Next up: Soviet filmmaking!