Neue Nerven, Neue Menschen

Posted: September 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Nerven, Updates |

Time to finally take this site live!

I’m going start off with a few posts on Nerven (Reinert, 1919) since this film is the subject of the chapter I am writing now. If you’re working on Weimar cinema but have never encountered Nerven before then go right away to the Edition Filmmuseum website and order a copy. If you don’t trust me, perhaps David Bordwell can help whet your appetite:

Released shortly before The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nerven ought to have entered the Expressionist canon. Its themes echo the movement’s post-Romantic attack on capitalism and the modern conception of the anguished soul. Its narrative plays out the implications of such icons of Expressionist art as convulsive crowds and men’s homicidal urges toward women. Just as important, the film’s pictorial design finds an original way to convey the tale’s emotional tenor, the sense of nervous anxiety strung ever tighter. Significantly, Reinert achieves a unique look without recourse to the painted sets of Caligari, but through a unique use of other cinematic resources.

Next, take a look at the Munich Filmmuseum’s teaser trailer. I guarantee you won’t be able to make any sense of it whatsoever. No need to worry, that was the predominant reaction in 1919/20 as well. However the trailer does a wonderful job of introducing the pervasive nervousness, overwrought emotions and evocative visual metaphors that so characterize this unusual film.

In my next post, I’ll introduce the primary sources on which the Munich Filmmuseum’s version of Nerven is based and begin to offer an analysis and critique of some of the (very difficult) choices that had to be made on the restoration.

Update: If you’re reading this on an iPad or any other mobile device or computer without Flash support you won’t be able to see the large trailer on the Edition Filmmuseum website. In that case, please use the smaller version I’ve embedded below. This should work on the iPad/iPhone and with most other browsers and mobile devices.

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