Following my recent posts on German expressionism and its influence on film noir, I came across something interesting. While recognising that the expressionist classics of the early 1920s had more than a chiaroscuro look to define their imagery, this characteristic is cited as the most relevant connection with Hollywood noir of the 40s and 50s.
Before the mid-1920s film stock was ‘colour-blind’ as it did not absorb the tones between light and dark, so the processed images had very stark contrast. It was not until 1924-25, with the appearance of first Orthochrome and then the superior Panchromatic films, that the processed film could render a broad spectrum of grey tones.
This begs the question: was German expressionist chiaroscuro more a result of technical limitation than a creative initiative?