Lotte H. Eisner  

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"When Erich von Stroheim shows us a repellent cripple avidly gazing at the beautiful Mae Murray in Merry Widow (1925) or a similar scene in the rediscovered sequences of Queen Kelly (1928) with another cripple and the beautiful Gloria Swanson, what translates such scenes into great art is the corrosive shock effect of genius. If we look at a similar sequence in Mondo di Notte (1960) by Luigi Vanzi we find nothing but pornographic kitsch. In Stroheim’s films, in which perversions are often raised to grandiose dimensions, disgust can become the measure of eroticism."--Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste (1968) by Gillo Dorfles

"Romantic authors such as Novalis or Jean Paul, while anticipating the Expressionist notions of visual delirium and of a continual state of effervescence, also seem almost to have foreseen the cinema's consecutive sequences of images. In the eyes of Schlegel in Lucinde, the loved one's features become indistinct: 'very rapidly the outlines changed, returned to their original form, then metamorphosed anew until they disappeared entirely from my exalted eyes.' And the Jean Paul of the Flegeljahre says: 'The invisible world wished, like chaos, to give birth to all things together; the flowers became trees, then changed into columns of cloud; and at the tops of the columns flowers and faces grew. In Novalis's novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen there are even superimpositions."--The Haunted Screen (1952) by Lotte H. Eisner

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Lotte H. Eisner (March 5, 1896 - November 25, 1983) was a French-German film critic, historian, writer and poet, best known for her book on German Expressionist cinema The Haunted Screen.


Born as Lotte Henriette Eisner in Berlin on March 5, 1896 in a family of a Jewish merchant. After the studies in Berlin and Munich, from 1927, she worked as a theater and film critic for German newspapers writing among others to Film-Kurier, daily film newspaper published in Berlin at the time.

As a person of Jewish descent, she had to flee Germany to France in 1933, to avoid Nazi persecution. During the WWII she had to hide, but finally got caught and was interned in the French concentration camp at the town of Gurs in Aquitaine, France. She managed to survive the war and after the Liberation she returned to Paris. She worked closely with Henri Langlois, the founder of the Cinémathèque Française, where she was as a chief archivist from 1945 until her retirement in 1975.

Lotte H. Eisner continued to write to the monthly Cahiers du Cinéma and La Revue du Cinéma. She is the author of an important film history book The Haunted Screen about the German Expressionism Cinema as a premonition of the Nazi period to come in Germany (ISBN 0-520-02479-6).

In 1974 at the news she is seriously ill and might die, the German film director Werner Herzog walked from Munich to Paris to bring a change in a string of events surrounding her. The experience is recounted in Herzog's book Of Walking in Ice (ISBN 0-934378-01-0).

She was made a member of the French Legion of Honor in 1982.

Lotte H. Eisner died in 1983 Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, on November 25, 1983.

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