Flesh and the Devil - Clarence Brown, technical devices and cinematic movements of 1920s in the construction of drama.

Essay by amelie November 2002

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The narrative and visual story of Clarence Brown's Flesh and the Devil is constructed through technical device of the 1920s and cinematic movements of this period. Mise en scene within the sequence establishes the way that the characters are understood and heightens the drama of the film.

Only a few significant technical advances occurred during the 1920s. A new approach to cinematography introduced a creation of soft and blurred images, rather than the hard-edged, sharp tones of previous films. This new approach to cinematography is used in Flesh and the Devil; examples of this soft blurry image are mainly used to describe female or the 'morally' good characters within the sequence. This technique constructs the way in which a character is perceived. Throughout the sequence the young woman dressed in white is described in this way, as are the characters of 'David' and the 'Wife of Uriah' after they have drunken from the wine goblet.

This is noticeable as prior to this event 'David' was shown under a more contrasted light. This technique allows the audience to assume his redemption. The contrast of this focus also determines the characters morals and intentions. This technique establishes the construction of narrative and visual story without the reliance of dialogue within the sequence.

One of the main German trends in cinematography in the 1920s was expressionism. It relied on drama and spectacle to convey the story, with distorted and exaggerated sets, costume and make up. The ideas and techniques used in Flesh and the Devil oppose the expressionist genre of film. As it portrays a realistic and naturalized narrative. Images appear to be realistic as this sequence is taken through a normal lens, to show the image without exaggerating or reducing the planes within the scene. This is used to portray an...