Expressionism and Realism Mixture in The Last Laugh and Citizen Kane One of the greatest expressionism and realism film- The Last Laugh- directed by German Director F. W Murnau, was released in December 1924. The exaggerated camera shots in this film give the audience a strong sense of anger, disappointment, and compassion of the Hotelportier. Facial expression and characters’ action stick out from the film. Selection of the camera settings are mostly set on the street or the apartment which intimated our society: a piece of our real life circumstances.
His film characters establishment seems like there are somewhat similar people that live in our society, but the exaggeration of the characters’ expression rejects the possibility of an actual person living in the world. However, because of the obvious character expression, the probability of the truth of the story is even more outstanding. Another remarkable film that combines expressionism and realism, director Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, was published in 1941. As the same subject matter using expressionism, Welles relatively puts more efforts on extreme camera angles.
Moreover, comparison to Murnau’s realism style, Citizen Kane is more like telling a historical incident, which an exact person that had really existed in the world before. Despite two films show the same subjects, the feeling of the subjects is still totally distinguished. In this essay, I will analyze different scenes and moment that display expressionism, as well as realism in both movies. Character Development The initial time we see every character in The Last Laugh, are all superficial.
There is not deep development that shows a character’s background, all we see is an intense personality ontrast between characters. To talk about is the old hotelportier, we see smiling and confidence walking from this character in the very beginning of the film. After a 10 minutes play, the old hotelportier suffers dismission immediately and shows extremely lost of this character in the entire time. Other characters express an extreme attitude after the retirement of the old man. One of the examples is his niece’s bridegroom’s aunt, is fall in love with the old man when he is still a hotelportier, but rapidly changes and leaves the old man while she sees his job quits.
Besides the bridegroom’s aunt, one of the old man’s neighbor announces every neighbor wantonly, yet, all his neighbors are completely unanimous in deriding his situation. This moment leads audience goes on more relentingly of the old man’s encounters. Strong character development established in Citizen Kane. Welles adds many elements behind every single character; all of them has a story background that helps emphasize character’s personality. Every step of the story brings further understanding of the characters.
Unlike characters in The Last Laugh, there are not much exaggerated facial expression and action present in the film. Camera Shots and Movements Although the character establishment displays ordinarily, the camera angle appears to be an exaggeration in Citizen Kane. Many low angle shots are showed in this film, we see this happens particularly while showing character Kane’s confidence and authority -shoot from the bottom to the top always shows an enormous figure of a person-. In other words, it is a demonstration of this character’s disposition, condescending and proud.
Additionally, there are many moments that we see the camera shots of three people, often shows a person’s back who stand at the nearest of the camera, then a person who stands at the edge of the middle scene, and finally the further person who usually talks the most are the main character during the moment. Special uses of camera angle and arrangement of character’s position in scenes provide visual impact to the audience. Movements of cameras in this film are usually horizontal movement, which shots start from a specific place then move to the main character.
On the other hand in The Last Laugh, camera movements focus on the character’s perspective in a moment. The clearest example is when the old man is drunk, sights are spinning just like the revolving door he used to work at. Similar to while the old man is dreaming, things are all rotating and vague like the door’s rotating. Continuance of scenes seldom shows in the film like Citizen Kane, but cuts of scenes. Realism in the films Welles masters realism in his very first movie.
Firstly he has a clear and direct idea of the story through background narrator introduces our main character Kane, a brief background of what Kane has achieved and influenced the United States. Newspapers in different languages report his information that increases the degree of credibility. In addition, in the beginning, the film mentions a real big history event, the Great Depression Some meaningless sentences occur when moving to the scene where the reporter interview Kane about his achievement, saying: “When I was a reporter, I asked much faster than you do”.
Much of the time in normal movies, in order to limit the time and relate a straightforward story in the film, directors cut scenes and delete unimportant actor’s lines. Thus, the meaningless script should not show up in the movie or else should not show up so obvious that may bring up the confusion of the main storyline. This unintentional script, however, creates a sense of the reality of the film. There are not many direct cuts in shots as well as the scenes.
Images between cut and cut are mostly fade in due to the film is made in the way of insertion of recollection in interview, which a journalist wants to find the real meaning of Kane’s last words of the dying, “Rosebud” from Kane’s relationships, and they recall the time when Kane is still alive. This fade in motion connects the memories and present, indeed, reinforces the veracity of the present. Moreover, the sounds in the movie, always present spatial effects; echoes are displayed to the audience like we are in that specific space in that moment.
By way of instance, back to the time when Kane is still a kid. Kane plays outside in the snow day and yells his mother to come out but his mother is indoor talking with someone else. In the period, we still hear the voice from Kane outside constantly. Another example is when the Thompson is talking to Kane’s ex-wife, Susan in a restaurant which is playing soft classical music. The camera moves to a captain walks outside making a phone call several minutes later, and place the captain to the closest to the image separating Susan by a door.
The classic music volume is lower at that time, then higher while the waiter inside the door opens the door. To The Last Laugh, realism shows in the story and the backgrounds. Characters simply perform on the street, the apartment and the bathroom where the old man works. The first scene takes place on the street, and shoot at the old man working as a hotelportier who supports and see off customers. Just the scene happens on the street shows a common story that is possible to happen somewhere in the world. Murnau’s story plot is not a huge one, a special storyline or a creative plot.
Therefore, the story is press close to our real society. In spite of many pompous expressions are illustrated in this film, the emotion from the character may really happen on people in the real world. The disappointment of the old man is fully expressed that we also feel the misfortune of the character. Expressionism Moments Montage is used in both films. The time when Kane brings Susan picnicking, the background of the forest is notably flat in Citizen Kane. While in The Last Laugh, we see a montage in the old man’s dream.
As mention above in camera movements, the scene spins clockwise, and then counterclockwise. Next, go to includes many facial expression on characters to introduce his character’s personality. Further, camera movements show from character’s perspective to feel the exceeding emotion from the character and particularly convey the emotion from the montage. Whereas, Welles shots from different camera angle, using editing, lightings and more techniques to create character’s disposition. Likewise, in realism side, he adds many of the real historical events and dates, to make the film even more realistic.
Interestingly, sounds are made to build the spatial effects in the film to let audience involve in the film. Both of the movies are undoubtedly outstanding movies in Realism and Expressionism. his dream that we see he walks to the customers and the car. The background combines the rotation of revolving door sequences. All his dream’s background plays the motion of the revolving door, namely, represent a strong sense of reminiscing and inseparable of the previous work the old man does. Faces in his dream are distorted.
Similar to the scene which his neighborhoods are all deriding at his leaving, faces of laughing attach the image. Besides montage uses, grandiose facial expression and character action are also presented in the film. The old man shows depression by walking slowly with his hunchbacked. Initially, the moment when the old man gets fired from his position, his eyes are wide open and looking at the same direction -which he stares on the right-. He falls down hard and sits beside the door. He, then, is compelled to take off his uniform and keep staring on the right.
Anytime after the sack, he appears to be similar appearance. Change to the next scene which the bridegroom’s aunt sees the old man’s exhausted look, she immediately turns her face from suspicion to startle. This kind of facial expression occurs frequently in the film. One specific scene that shows expressionism in Citizen Kane is the ending scene of the film where Kane walks through mirrors, seems like it reflects Kane’s characteristic, only care about himself. Other like the intense lightings, the character whose back faces the front is normally dark, we can only see light shines on a person face that sits across.
Moreover, the camera angle metaphors a lot of characters instant emotion and temperament. Such as in the place which Kane imprison Susan, low angle camera shot of the characters make the domination of Kane. To summarize this, Welles in expressionism pays more attention to camera angle, lightings, and metaphors. In contrast, Murnau makes effort on character expression. Great techniques these two movies. Murnau demonstrates realism by using common background and usual plots, making the film closer to our society. In expressionism aspect, he