[PAST EVENT] Distinguished Lecture Series, Department of Art and Art History

April 22, 2011
5pm - 6:30pm
Muscarelle Museum of Art
611 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location

From Wilhelm Worringer's Form in Gothic (1911) to Walter Gro-pius's "Bauhaus Proclamation" (1919), the Gothic was a central trope of the "expressionist" movement in painting, sculpture, and architecture. For many German artists and intellectuals of this era the Gothic cathedral signified not only a lost social and cultural harmony that they longed to restore, but also an integration of the fine and applied arts with architecture in the service of collective belief.

These ideas also had currency among certain members of the German film industry during the 1920s. The Gothic cathedral in Fritz Lang's futuristic film Metropolis (1927) is arguably the richest example of the adoption of this expressionist myth in Weimar cinema. Lang scholar Tom Gunning (2000) has even proposed that "the collision between the Gothic and the modern" constitutes "the true conflict in Metropolis." Yet no one has adequately examined the implications of Lang's use of this trope within the larger contemporary discourse on the Gothic. In this paper I argue that in Metropolis Lang emblematically uses the cathedral not only as the site for the film's naive message of familial and social reconciliation, but also to suggest that film, rather than traditional visual media, was now the most effective medium for realizing the expressionist agenda of artistic, cultural, and social reintegration.

[[cmleve, Catherine Levesque]]