The word “Kammerspielfilm” is not a common one in the English language, and it is perhaps no surprise to learn that it comes from the German.
It means “chamber film,” and it refers to an old-fashioned style of filmmaking, one that is generally considered to be outdated and obsolete.
The term also has roots in theater – after all, a “chamber play” was a kind of early version of what we know as an “intimate” play. A chamber play was an intimate portrayal, with very few characters and a single setting.
A similar idea applies to Kammerspielfilm. In Kammerspielfilm, there are few characters, usually only two or three, and they exist in just one location — a “chamber.” There are no special effects or gimmicks here — just simple dialogue with minimal action.
The style of filmmaking known as Kammerspielfilm emerged at the beginning of the 20th century and gained popularity in the 1920s; it faded out around 1930.
What Is Kammerspielfilm
What Is Kammerspielfilm?
Kammerspielfilme are German and Austrian films made largely in the 1920s.
The word Kammerspiel (chamber-play) was used to describe a genre of drama characterized by a concentration on psychological motivations, often taking place in just one room.
It can be helpful to think of kammerspielfilm as a reaction against epic storytelling (epic films like D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance) and their use of spectacle to tell stories about large groups of people (e.g., war, revolution) rather than individual psychology.
Kammerspielfilm emerged from the roots of German Expressionism, which itself was an outgrowth of early 20th-century German theater, particularly plays by Frank Wedekind and Erwin Piscator.
What Is Kammerspielfilm Film Movement?
Most of the time we think about film movements in the context of European cinema, we think about French New Wave, Italian Neorealism, and the Czechoslovak New Wave. And they are all movements that are named after the countries from which they emerged.
However, there are many other movements that are named after cities or regions, each with their own distinct flavor.
If you’re interested in German cinema, one of these city-named movements is particularly important: Kammerspielfilm.
Kammerspielfilm was a term coined in 1931 by journalist Walter Schobert to describe films that were produced in small studios in Berlin between 1929 and 1932.
Although directors like Fritz Lang and F.Murnau were associated with Kammerspielfilm, it was actually a loose collective of filmmakers who had similar stylistic goals but differed in terms of their politics and even cinematic techniques.
The movement’s name refers to the relatively low budgets and claustrophobic setting of most films made during this period. These films mostly took place within intimate rooms rather than on sprawling vistas or large metropolitan cityscapes.
They also tended to focus on stories set within bourgeois circles rather than attempting to depict everyday life for everyone across the spectrum—a tendency that differentiated them from Neue Sachlichkeit films.
It’s important to note that many people consider this style of filmmaking to be a predecessor of modern cinema; after all, it featured limited sets and dialogue between actors without much action.
History Of The Kammerspielfilm Film Movement
Kammerspielfilm (or chamber play film) is a style of German filmmaking that emerged in the 1920s and flourished until the end of World War II in 1945.
The term Kammerspiel was first used by Austrian theater critic Anton Kuh to describe plays performed in small rooms, but it wasn’t until the coming of sound that filmmakers began adapting the term to describe their new style of film production.
Towards the end of the silent era, German filmmakers, who had already made several experiments with sound film production, started to notice how successful American and French cinema was with audiences. They also realized that they were losing audiences because they weren’t able to compete with Hollywood’s special effects and big budgets.
This caused German filmmakers to try new things with their films. The Kammerspielfilm movement started with a group of young filmmakers at Ufa, Germany’s largest film studio.
The group included Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Curt Siodmak. These men began to produce films characterized by low-key lighting, static camera work, and a focus on psychological development over action or spectacle.
Filming took place either on location or in a limited number.
Essential Filmmakers Of The Kammerspielfilm Film Movement
A Kammerspielfilm (chamber-play film) is a German film genre that developed during the Weimar Republic. It refers to films with small casts and simple, psychologically realistic plots which emphasize character development and typically avoid action or melodrama.
The Kammerspiel tradition was already well established by the beginning of the 20th century, but it was in the 1920s that it flourished. The German word Kammerspiel has no precise English translation.
It refers to plays written for the chamber theaters, which were smaller than those used for “grand” (grand-theatre) plays. It also means a play with scenes or acts not dependent on each other, but rather linked together by being part of a whole.
The films made between 1918 and 1933 are known as “Kammerspielfilme”. The most important directors of this period were Ernst Lubitsch, Ewald André Dupont, F. W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Gennaro Righelli and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (F.W. Murnau’s brother).
These directors usually made their films in collaboration with writers from the literary world (e.g., The Last Laugh was written by Carl Mayer and Hermann Sudermann).
The Kammerspielfilm (literally: chamber film) was the German motion picture production of the silent era that began in 1919, after the end of World War I.
Essential Films Of The Kammerspielfilm Film Movement
The Kammerspielfilm (“chamber film”) movement started in 1920s Germany and had its heyday during the Weimar Republic, which was established after World War I.
The best-known director of the era was probably Georg Wilhelm Pabst, whose work includes “The Joyless Street” (1925).
Other important filmmakers from the movement include F. W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. Toward the end of the silent film era, filmmakers sought to make films that were more realistic than what audiences were used to seeing in Hollywood films.
However, they weren’t always able to escape cliches; one of the most common elements of Kammerspielfilm was the “femme fatale.”
In addition to using more naturalistic settings, filmmakers also made use of fewer intertitles — text that is shown onscreen between scenes — and more camera shots that didn’t necessarily involve moving directly toward or away from a character’s face.
The Kammerspielfilm movement had an influence on German cinema for years, even after sound films became the norm in Hollywood. The stark realism of these films can be seen in films of the 1960s like “Repulsion” (1965) by Roman Polanski.
The Kammerspielfilm, or German Chamber Film, was a stylized genre of silent film that flourished in Germany in the 1920s. The Kammerspielfilm was less sensational than American crime movies yet more realistic than mainstream German cinema, and it quickly gained an audience for its stories about urban corruption and crime.
Importance Of The Kammerspielfilm Film Movement
There are many great movies that were made during the course of history. Some of these movies were very influential in the world of cinema.
The Kammerspielfilm movement is one of them. It was a movie movement that was started in Germany back in 1919.
It began with the making of “Lubitsch’s Anna Boleyn” and it lasted until the end of World War II. In 1919, the German film industry underwent drastic changes because of the effects of World War I on Germany.
The economy was not as stable anymore, and people had lost their jobs because many factories could not produce any more goods.This led to a high unemployment rate among workers and increased inflation rates which made it harder for people to get money for entertainment.
Because of this, many people did not have as much money to spend on movies. In order to entice viewers and make more money, film producers began producing films that were shorter in duration but were still able to entertain people like they did before World War I had happened.
These films were considered art films or sometimes called “product films”, because they were meant to be advertisements for certain products such as cigarette or candy packaging on display.
Kammerspielfilm Film Movement Theory
Film Movement Theory is a way of analyzing a film’s movement. All films have movement, be it from left to right, up and down, or even in circles. The Film Movement Theory breaks down the movements by the method in which they are filmed.
Tonal Analysis looks at three aspects of the film: Tones (light and dark), Motifs (repetitions), and Rhythm (movement). Light and dark tones are used to show contrast between two things.
One example is the black and white film Metropolis by Fritz Lang. In this movie, there is a lower class that lives underground for their whole life working on machines, while the upper class live above ground in beautiful cities with trolleys and other luxuries.
The only time these two classes meet is when one of the workers breaks through into their world. This is shown as having lighter skin than them because they come from above ground where it is brighter and they can show more detail in their clothing and jewelry.
Another film that uses light tones effectively is Schindler’s List directed by Steven Spielberg. This film also shows a clear difference between good and evil with light tones being used for the German soldiers and dark tones being used for Jews forced out of their homes.
The End Of The Kammerspielfilm Film Movement
The Kammerspielfilm movement began in 1919. With the end of the First World War, Germany had no industry and few resources for filmmaking. Artists and intellectuals started to take an interest in this field.
The first “kammerspielfilm”, a short movie called Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari, was produced in 1919 by director Robert Wiene and billed as “the most modern film of the century”. Tt led to a new movement that would make German movies famous all over the world.
In 1922, Director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau created Nosferatu, a vampire story about Count Orlok that became one of the best known examples of kammerspielfilm.
A couple of years later, Fritz Lang made Metropolis, a futuristic film set in a dystopian city of skyscrapers and social inequality. In Germany, the kammerspiel was seen as an artistic experience that could not be reproduced on stage as it was too realistic.
It had to be experienced through the eyes of actors without any help from sets or props. It is said that theater directors were jealous of its success and the fact that it was not under their control so they tried to ban the kammerspiel and later turned against it by calling it kits.
Kammerspielfilm Film Movement – Wrapping Up
Ever since the mid-twentieth century, when the Kammerspielfilm movement first came into prominence, there has been a certain amount of contention as to what exactly constitutes a Kammerspielfilm.
Some would argue that it is a genre of film in and of itself, while others believe that it is merely a style of filmmaking used to portray certain stories.
Still, others would claim that it is neither of these things, but rather a uniquely German phenomenon that cannot be defined by any universal set of rules or criteria.
While all three of these points are certainly valid interpretations of the Kammerspielfilm movement, I would like to take this opportunity to describe my own personal interpretation.
I feel that Kammerspielfilme can best be described as a genre of film characterized by its themes and atmosphere rather than its style or format.
After all, one need not look far beyond the work of an artist like Fritz Lang to see how such themes may manifest themselves in more stylized forms.
While the distinction between Aufklärungsfilme and Kammerspielfilme can obviously be difficult for modern viewers to draw, it was often quite clear what sort of film someone was attempting to make during this period.