New Objectivity (a translation of the German Neue Sachlichkeit, alternatively translated as “New Sobriety” or “New matter-of-factness”) was an art movement that emerged in Germany in the early 1920s as a counter to expressionism. The term applies to a number of artistic forms, including film.
In film, New Objectivity reached its high point around 1929. It translated into realistic cinematic settings, straightforward camerawork and editing, a tendency to examine inanimate objects as a way to interpret characters and events, a lack of overt emotionalism, and social themes.
The director most associated with the movement is Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Pabst’s films of the 1920s concentrate on subjects such as abortion, prostitution, labor disputes, homosexuality, and addiction. His cool and critical 1925 Joyless Street is a landmark of the objective style. Pabst’s 1930 pacifist sound film Westfront 1918 views the World War I experience in a bleak, matter-of-fact way. With its clear denunciation of war, it was soon banned as unsuitable for public viewing.
Other directors in the style included Ernő Metzner, Berthold Viertel, and Gerhard Lamprecht. The movement ended essentially in 1933 with the fall of the Weimar Republic.
Films of the New Objectivity emerged in the German film of the 1920s as a way out of the mannerist metaphor of the stylistic prevailing film expressionism. They tried to realism in its action theme, the play of the actors but also the selection of authentic film sets, so in some cases also by the fact the film is spoken. A precursor of this new style that the road of objectivity and portrayed real people understand fates, was formed out of the film studios in the Ruhr miners movie Green Was My Valley (1923) ofKarl Grune. German and English critics noted the realism of this film as something out of the ordinary and new. However, only since Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Joyless Street (1925), which is expected to be the first of the New Objectivity, began an extensive withdrawal from Expressionism, and made numerous films with socially critical and realistic issue.
In Austria, with the feature film Based on the social reports of the journalist Emil Kläger through the districts of misery and crime as early as 1920, a first forerunner of the New Objectivity emerged. In the following years a number of productions were published dealing with the dreary situation of inflation-stricken Austria after the First World War: women from the Vienna suburbs (1925), sharks of the post-war period (1926), in the shadow of the electric chair (1927), Other women (1928) or A Whore Has Been Murdered (1930).
The highlight was the New Objectivity in Film in the second half of the 1920s. In addition to Pabst, Gerhard Lamprecht was one of the important representatives of the New Objectivity. In 1925 he turned to the disreputable the first film of a trilogy about problems of social underclass, with 1,926 illegitimate and people with one another was continued. Other significant films were The Adventures of a Ten Mark (1926) by Berthold Viertel, the films Phil Jutzi produced by the Berlin Prometheus Film and Leo Mittler’s Beyond the Road, but also Hamburger SPD films in the style of Werner Hochbaum’s brothers. With People on Sunday (1930), Pabst’s Comradeship (1931), but also Victor Trivas ‘ No Man ‘s Land (1931) and the classic of the proletarian film Kuhle Wampe or: Who owns the world? (1932, Slatan Dudow ), the flow of New Objectivity in the early 1930s came to an end with the new National Socialist film policy. In terms of film history, the New Objectivity is seen in places as an aesthetic forerunner of National Socialism, especially with regard to mountain films.
Films with New Objectivity themes and visual style include:
Joyless Street, 1925
Secrets of a Soul, 1926
The Love of Jeanne Ney, 1927
Police Report: Hold-Up, short subject, 1928
Adventures of a Ten-Mark Note, 1928
People on Sunday, 1930
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