Why movies tilt the camera like this




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The Expressionist origins of the “Dutch angle.”

The Dutch angle (also called the Dutch tilt, canted angle, or oblique angle) is a filmmaking technique that involves setting the camera at an angle and tilting the entire scene. You’ll see it everywhere from blockbuster movies to soap commercials. It’s used to emphasize when something is a little off, or just to make a shot look more interesting. The thing is… it’s not actually Dutch. And it didn’t start with filmmakers. It was pioneered by German directors during World War I, when outside films were blocked from being shown in Germany. Unlike Hollywood, which was serving up largely glamorous, rollicking films, the German film industry took inspiration from the Expressionist movement in art and literature, which was focused on processing the insanity of world war. Its themes touched on betrayal, suicide, psychosis, and terror. And Expressionist films expressed that darkness not just through their plotlines, but their set designs, costumes… and unusual camera shots.

To learn more about Expressionism in art and film, check out the Museum of Modern Art: https://www.moma.org/s/ge/curated_ge/

To watch some of the Expressionist classics, head to the internet archive: https://archive.org/details/feature_f…