From Nosferatu to Euphoria: the beauty and horror of our minds through cinematic expressionism

The Europe-born artistic movement has resonated through decades of art and entertainment; here is a peek into expressionism, and how it exists in our present-day art form.


In popular films and television series like Euphoria, notice how one’s surroundings seem to emanate their situation; this is a prominent factor within expressionism.

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

Have you ever sat back to watch a film or T.V. show and just found yourself in awe of the scene before you? I’m talking the shadowy, sharp corners and rising waters in Joel Cohen’s screen adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth that seem to relay the conflicts of mental misalignment, scourging the floors and walls as Macbeth deteriorates into utter madness. Maybe you’ve seen how even the mere size difference between the characters and their environments in Edward Scissorhands echoes the lovable peculiarity of the story’s style in correlation to someone that is odd, but… comfortably so. Maybe you’ve seen Cassie Howard in Euphoria, sitting; surrounded by roses of pink and white, tear-stricken, and seemingly mocked, framed by the curse of hyper-feminine expectations and ironic dispositions against a twisted reality of wrongful desire.

The immersive art style that transcends a majority of these films and shows and influences the work of directors and artists alike is the modernist Expressionism movement, a Northern European movement that began in the 20th century and now exists through various mediums of art. Edvard Munch, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Franz Marc were just some of many artists that brought about this approach to their work; their art comprises the notion of an environment encapsulating a sort of projection of one’s mental or emotional state. In this realm of exploration, textures and patterns seem to change; sharp angles and extremes in lighting or color palettes catch the eye, as though to convey a point of sorts—that maybe, what we’re seeing is so severe as to alter the manifestations of our reality.

This is where what’s real and what’s subjective seem to melt into each other; it can be gorgeous, maddening, and haunting.

A solid example of this form through art can be recognized in a famous piece by Edvard Munch titled The Scream; of course, varying perspectives and artistic approaches are allowed, but an undeniably recurring effect of the piece lies in how distorted the subject’s surroundings are. It’s as if he is reacting to the world around him; his emotions project through visual swirls and disturbances, and the waviness of panic and horror settle into our minds as we watch the scene before us. This is a perfect expressionistic example of how an environment in art and film can convey and amplify so much.

Edvard Munch’s The Scream.



Expressionism, in its sheer power to elevate and transform the canvas and screen, is a forever prominent and influential art movement that has brought us closer to our characters; it has been a medium for decades upon which artists and directors have spilled the soul of their works into life. Has there been a memorable expressionistic moment in art or film that you’ve come to appreciate?