- Leopold Jessner
Leopold Jessner (
March 3, 1878– December 13, 1945) was a noted producer and director of German Expressionist theaterand cinema. His first film, "Hintertreppe" (1921), is considered a major turning point which paved the way for the later German Expressionist experiments of German filmmakers F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, and G.W. Pabst.
A native of
Königsberg, Jessner was a touring actor in his youth and turned to directing in 1911. He was director of the Berlin State Theatrefrom 1919-1925 and was known for bare stages in which flights of steps served as different spaces for scenes and directing actors to act in an oversimplified, unnatural manner.
"Hintertreppe" (German: "Backstairs"), Jesnner's first film (co-directed with
Paul Leni), highlighted Jessner's use of these heavily stylised staircases. These staircases would become regular fixtures in later German films, nicknamed "Jessnertreppe" in Jessner's honor, and would be used to full effect in the 1926 German Expressionist film "Faust", directed by F.W. Murnau. Jessner's direction is often considered heavy-handed and clusmy in regards to this picture, and critics accuse Jessner of forcing inappropriate theatrical conventions into the cinema.
Jewishand a Socialist, he was forced to emigrate to the United Statesin 1933, after Adolf Hitlercame to power in Germany. He worked in filmanonymously in the United Statesuntil his death, in Los Angeles.
*"Hintertreppe" (1921) (aka "Backstairs") (Directed with
*"Erdgeist" (1923) (aka "Earth Spirit")
*"Maria Stuart, Teil 1 und 2" (1927) (aka "Mary Queen of Scots") (Directed with
*"Children of the Fog" (1935) (Directed with
For an extended biography of Leopold Jessner, see the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book (London), vol. XLVIII (2003), 110-133.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.