German expressionist cinema was at its height in the 1920s, and few films embodied the movement as much as WARNING SHADOWS. Directed by Arthur Robison, this classic tale of psychological horror remains his best known work, celebrated for its outrageous visual style and notorious for its attempt to make a purely visual feature film (in other words, a film with no intertitles except, of course, the opening credits). A mysterious traveler and illusionist who performs shadow puppetry arrives to provide some entertainment at an otherwise routine dinner party. The host of the party is already mad with jealousy over the presence of his wife's four suitors, but when the puppet show begins, passions overtake reason and reality is not what it appears to be. Shadows, reflections and silhouettes are the dominant imagery, and the film boasts the extraordinary camerawork of Fritz Arno Wagner, the German cinematographer who is renowned for his work with Fritz Lang (SPIES) and F.W. Murnau (NOSFERATU). WARNING SHADOWS has long been considered a landmark work by champions of the German cinema. Lotte Eisner, in her book "The Haunted Screen," declared that director Robison "handles phantoms with the same mastery as his strange illusionist," while Siegfried Kracauer, in "From Caligari to Hitler," simply stated that WARNING SHADOWS "belongs among the masterpieces of the German screen."
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I know it's old but this thig keeps me looking.
This is a definitely a silent classic, a must-see film, but it must be admitted it is all style and little substance. (Camera work, sets, costumes, lighting, etc. should be means to the end of story telling and not ends in themselves as they seem to be here.) This is an experiment, a wonderful experiment, in film making, particularly in the use of shadow and while the plot may not really grab you, the images will linger in your mind.