The cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari is a 1920’s German expressionist film. It is widely regarded as one of the best horror film of the silent era and has inspired modern day film directors such as Tim Burton. Arguably this is the film that inspired generations of modern day horror. Director Robert Wiene and screen play writers take us on a abstract journey that through the mind of a psychopath. The story follows the narrative of a small town being terrorized by a mysterious serial killer. These murders coincidently happen when a strange man comes to the town Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), and in his possession a somnambulist by the name of Cesare. Very early in the film it is obvious to the audience that the Dr. is controlling the somnambulist another stagnant part of the film is when we see Jane the only pretty girl on screen fulfilling the role of the damsel in distress some may argue that this plot was some what clichéd but, we must take into account that this film was made in 1920 and “every cliché has to start somewhere” (Julia Merriam). (Fig1)

(fig1) filmsdefrance.com

Its very easy to read into the imagery portrayed in this production, as the sets are almost entirely made up of elaborately painted 2-d backgrounds, the notion of a 3-d person being portrayed in a3-d world was quite a extravagant idea for people in the 1920’s. the art work followed the style of the German expressionist movement with dark contrasting tones and sharp angular lines. This new style of film came about as Germany film economy grew due to the government in the early 1900’s banning foreign production’s this isolation pressured the German film industry to create more films bring new idea and themes to the public. The abstract world represent in this film “Seems to resonate with the distorted worldview that echoed around the world after the Great War 1914-18” (Richard Scheib). This film may have scared people at the time as the world inside and outside the cinema was not positive atmosphere.

(fig2) filmsdefrance.com