2008-05-12 : Expressionism in Roleplaying
I think it was Cape Fear, the original. Emily and I watched it a bunch of years ago. There’s this one moment in the film. As I understand these things, it’s an example of the influence of German Expressionism on American Film Noir.
The villain is going to come into her house and kill her, right? In this moment she comes down the stairs or around the corner into the front hallway. There in the shadow behind the door is a guy - long coat, hat pulled low, hunched shoulders, this sinister figure we can’t quite make out. Quick reaction shot, she startles and covers her mouth or something, and then we cut back: it was just a coat stand. Hat on one hook, coat on the one below, maybe an umbrella at the bottom too. She only THOUGHT it was a guy. The director had an actor stand in for the coat stand to give us her point of view.
So, sure, German Expressionism influencing Film Noir, no big.
Here’s a made-up moment from a roleplaying game. It’s Poison’d. I’m playing Ned McCubbins, murdering pirate; Mitch is playing Ned’s shipmate Filthy Peter. Emily’s the GM.
Me: I come up behind Filthy Peter while he’s leaning against the rail watching the lights of Kingston. He has no reason to fear me so I don’t bother sneaking.
Mitch: [narrowing his eyes]
Me: I put my pistol against the back of his head and blow his brains out through his face.
Emily: Cool. Roll brutality vs soul to attack someone unsuspecting.
Me: [rolling] Mother crap.
Mitch: Ha ha.
Emily: You flinch at the last second, and so do you, and the bullet opens his scalp above his ear but doesn’t blow out his brains at all. Filther Peter, what do you do?
Mitch: Oh I bring the fight, oh yes I do.
I propose that “blow his brains out through his face” exists in our Poison’d game the way that the guy in the shadow behind the door exists in Cape Fear. It doesn’t turn out to be real, but it sure does matter.
1. On 2008-05-12, Julie, aka jrs said:
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