Thursday, 22 September 2016

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920)


Fig.1 Film poster


'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' at first sight is a bizarre looking horror movie released in Germany in 1920. This movie is odd not only by the look, but by the genre and environment. It gives viewers a look through the main characters’ eyes, letting them explore illusions and unrealistic reality. At some point it makes viewers wonder if the characters are real in that world. Caligari is the first movie to truly have a strong horror genre. The movie is silent, without any words, so the main progression of the movie comes from German Expressionism, which is strongly shown through body language, actions, mimics.           



Fig. 2 Francis in his room

The story begins with a young man called Francis who tells his life story to an old man while sitting under the tree. He tells him how he had a good friend, which later on in the movie got murdered. He explains how he had one goal to find the murderer of his friend. Francis believed that all crimes are connected to Dr. Caligari and his companion Cesare, a somnambulist/sleepwalker. He dedicates his time to solve the crime before the killer targets anyone else. The story comes clear when all along the madman in this movie was Francis lost in his unspeakable delusions. After all, Francis was a mentally ill person who somehow thought that Caligari, is a murderer, but in reality Caligari was a doctor from the mental asylum house, where Francis, Cesare were his patients.


Fig.3 Cesare taking Jane on the roof tops


 "The film has been described not just as one of the first 'horror' films, but one of the first examples of a movie generating a real psychological uneasiness in its audience," (Stend, 2014).


Fig. 4 Crooked Buildings
    


This film has good a depth vision into psychology, as it can put the audience in Francis' perspective, letting them see illusions of a crippled mind. The design of the set and environment, specially buildings are made to look weird and deformed into strange shapes. It's made to look like that, because it makes way easier to reflect a distorted vision that Francis have, and helps the audience see and understand his inner world. The changes at the end of the film, when it becomes again normal in the asylum. It is to show how normal people saw the real world. It gives that shocking twist in the end, when movie story becomes clear to the audience.

Fig. 5 Asylum

Fig. 6 Cesare awakening
All in all, movie director, Robert Wiene, uses mysterious effects and outstanding lighting of various buildings, shapes and faces to dramatize the look of the atmosphere. Different lighting was depending on the mood and daytime, for example, if it was night they would use greyish, bluish tone and for day time they would use yellow or even orange colour tone. In the film it is noticeable that there are short episodes, from one act till next one, they are short and clear, so it does make easier for viewers to understand what's going on, because there is difficulty in understanding the film when there is no human voice, only facial expressions and music in the background. After finishing the movie, it leaves some questions:  "Does this classic film still has impact to new horror films till this very day?". It is easy to say that it does make a spark to the new horror movies, same effects are still left to make person feel shocked and scared at the same time.


3 comments:

  1. Excellent start to your CAA film reviews Karolina :)

    Just a couple of pointers... try and embed your quote into your own discussion, so that it is not sitting there all on its own. So, for example,

    'It is easy to say that it does make a spark to the new horror movies, same effects are still left to make person feel shocked and scared at the same time. As Stend says in his review,

    "The film has been described not just as one of the first 'horror' films, but one of the first examples of a movie generating a real psychological uneasiness in its audience," (Stend, 2014).

    You should also try and use 3 quotes, as this will give you a good balanced discussion. Also, it is good practice to put your quotes in italics... looking forward to seeing what you make of 'Metropolis' :)

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    1. Thank you for the advice! I'll try next time!

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