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Just a slight glance at some of these unforgettable pictures and the viewer is hypnotized--eyes rapt to the page--drawn into a strange, mysterious world of the past and overwhelmed by its melancholy lyricism. One senses a profound humanity in Brandt's treatment of desolation and poverty: a quality comparable to the best work of Expressionist painters like Munch or Schiele.
It is interesting to note that the visual sensibility found in Brandt's high contrast, black-and-white compositions and sometimes startling, baroque perspectives also bears comparison to the cascading, labyrinthine imagery of Orson Welles's films. And the influence of Brandt's work appears evident in a number of other dreamy/nightmarish films: e.g., Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence," Roman Polanski's "Repulsion," David Lynch's "Eraserhead" and "The Elephant Man," and Michael Radford's "Nineteen Eighty-Four," to name but a few.
To put it simply: Bill Brandt is a genius of the lens--a supreme master of light and shadow--and, without a doubt, one of the most vital and innovative artists of the twentieth century.
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