The Cabinet of Dr.


(Tuesday 25 Sep. 12)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German silent movie which was done in 1920. This silent movie is a horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer both writers emerged from the First World War and strongly embittered against the wartime government. It has been titled one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era.

This movie was about a man called Francis which at the beginning of the movie was having a
conversation with he’s friend as a woman walked past then called Jane, after this Francis got into telling a story about hoe him and this friend called Alan are both in competition to get married to the beautiful Jane and whatever happens they still keep their friendship. Francis and Alan went to a carnival where they met Dr. Caligari and Cesare which was the somnambulist whom the doctor keeps in a coffin and also controlled hypnotically by the doctor. Cesare goes around killing people in the town whilst people still wonder who the mysterious killer is. One day Cesare was asked to kill Jane by Dr. Caligari but Cesare couldn’t do it because of her beauty so he decided to carry her out of the house. Cesare was being pursued by the people from the town, after a long chase Cesare releases Jane, falls and dies. Francis then goes to Dr. Caligari’s office to get more information about him and found out that he was the man behind the scene and decided to get him arrested.

The movie then returns to the present moment, with Francis talking to him friend, during this moment there was a twist in the movie the flashback was however his fantasy because he, Jane and Cesare are all in fact inmates of the insane asylum, and the man he says is Caligari is his asylum doctor.

Image 1

Style – In the stylistic aspect of this movie even though it’s a realistic movie it also has the side a cartoon looking quality within it for example; the backgrounds of the movie looks contrast colour painted in, this gives a unique look to each scene and the movie itself.

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Other stylistic aspects also add to the originality of the film. The Expressionistic touches were not restrained to the sets but extended to make-up and some of the acting, most notably Cesar’s in both cases “The acting is almost overdone, with wide gestures and almost comically exaggerated faces. And yet, against the exaggerated backdrop, it seems almost natural. Cesare, in particular, almost blends into the harsh lines of the set. Tall and lanky, the somnambulist is dressed all in black, with a wild shock of black hair and dark-rimmed eyes” (Julia Merriam).

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Also looking at one of the pictures above it’s almost like the house that Cesare and Dr. Caligari are in isn’t centred but more diagonally shaped as if the house was about to fall and we can also see that most textures of the house where been painted in with black lines “Everything in the background is off centre and slanted, as if it could slide right out of the frame. The scene in which Cesare looms over the sleeping form of Jane excellently portrays

this. Cesare must first climb through a trapezoidal window into a house whose walls are diagonal” (Merrick Doll). Towards the end of the story it comes to conclusion that there was a twist in the story leaving the audience confused on what’s happened in conclusion of how Francis story was he’s fantasy and he was the one how was insane “It’s difficult to say whether the framing story adds or detracts from the overall effectiveness. Without it there might have been a greater mystery or strangeness to the film with little diegetic explanation for its twisted vision. But, as it stands, the more logical explanation that we have been viewing things formed in an insane mind is not that comforting” (Chris) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was one of the best twisted stories in its era and it also influenced other movies and genres, “This film, along with other similar German works that followed it, profoundly influenced genres such as horror and film noir where stark lighting effects turn regular objects into Expressionistic shadows” (Chris), it also had good background inform with art. The only thing I would say I didn’t like about ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ was the subtitle. I didn’t like the fact that after the characters mouth talk a huge subtitle emerges and sometimes stays at the same point for too long.

List of illustrations

Image 1 – Image 2 - Image 3 – Image 4 –

Chris –

Julia Merriam – Merrick Doll

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