This article examines Artur Robison's 1923 film Schatten: Eine nächtliche Halluzination (Warning Shadows). Read against the backdrop of a cultural moment in which gender roles were rapidly changing, Warning Shadows functions as a response to the anxieties, fears, and desires precipitated by women's emancipation. The film works to reimpose traditional gender norms and reinforce masculine power both in the narrative, where it stages a sadistic fantasy through which the transgressive wife is punished, and in the structure, where the masculine gaze is positioned as one way to subdue the threatening female body. Warning Shadows thus draws on a common cinematic trope in which a powerful male gaze takes control of a passive female object. It does so, however, in response to a specific historical moment in which that female body represented a fundamentally new and threatening sociocultural structure. Even as the film constructs an ostensibly powerful gaze, it undermines the spectator's autonomy, repeatedly drawing attention to the cinematic apparatus that guides—even manipulates—the viewer and revealing the illusory nature of the control ostensibly afforded him or her.
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Research Article| November 01 2013
Anjeana K. Hans; Schatten: Eine nächtliche Halluzination: Staging the Punishment for Women's Emancipation. New German Critique 1 November 2013; 40 (3 (120)): 41–64. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2325419
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