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Haunting German cinema the focus of Milwaukee museum exhibit

Chicago Tribune

Film buffs, take note: The Milwaukee Art Museum is rolling out its newest exhibition, “Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s,” just in time for Halloween.

The Weimar-era ‘20s were a tumultuous time in Germany, as people grappled with hyperinflation, hardships and other fallout from World War I. An uneasy mood permeated the arts, from painting, literature and architecture to German expressionist cinema.

Filmmakers of the time used a host of stylistic techniques — warped perspectives, dramatic lighting and distorted settings — to tell stories built around villains, monsters, the perils of technology and an uncertain, often bleak future. The groundbreaking movement helped spawn other film genres, such as horror and science fiction. Almost a century later, it continues to influence modern-day masters like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton.

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Organized by the French film organization La Cinematheque francaise, “Haunted Screens” showcases more than 150 objects, including set design drawings, photos, posters, cameras and clips from 20-plus movies. Also on display: a life-size reproduction of the Maria robot from Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film classic, “Metropolis.”

Running from Oct. 21 through Jan. 22, entry to the exhibit is included in the cost of regular museum admission, which is $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 13; www.mam.org.

The museum’s permanent collection features lots of key paintings and prints from the German expressionist period, so be sure to hit those galleries too.

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