The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - Monumental And Influential Movie of Silent Era


                            When the longer-stories came into existence in the early 1910s, Hollywood tried to hone its storytelling techniques by adding ts own brand of realism. But, In Germany a film movement raised, which influenced and genres like film noir, science fiction, horror. Expressionistic film movement's influence is tremendous on so many great directors that range from Fritz Lang to Tim Burton. Its prophetic story and unique set designs (by artists Walter Reimann, Walter Röhrig) made for a strangely effective visual experience. 

                           Robert Wiene's 1920 "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari"  is innovative work and pinnacle of German Expressionist film-making. It's also credited as the first film to introduce "twist ending." The long shadows, sets, and a iconic brand of surrealism was later influenced the designs of Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927).

 Plot
        The movie starts with Francis (Friedrich Feher), sitting on a bench, watching with concern as his fiancee walks him passed him like a zombie. He tells to a stranger sitting next to him of a maniacal doctor, who disrupted their lives years ago, when he came for a country fair to their town. 


                A magician named Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss) exhibits a somnambulist (sleepwalker) named Cesare (Conrad Veidt), who sleeps in the aforementioned cabinet, and he challenges his audience to ask anything about the future. Francis' friend Alan hastily inquires to Cesare, he was told that his death will come before dawn. At night, Alan becomes another victim of a serial-killer, who has stalking the town for quite some time. Francis suspects Caligari and sets out to prove his hunch. 


               The quest take us to the bizarre landscapes and comes to end with a great plot twist, which might shock first time viewers and it doesn't feel manipulative or forced. The subsequent viewings reveal just how well its creators have developed the themes of madness, with a multi-layered deceptive screenplay. 

Analysis
                Director Robert Wiene rather than attempting to capture "realism," which was the general method of that time, he went the opposite route, spreading the screen with forced perspectives and all kinds of bizarre diagonals and slants; there is hardly a right angle to be found in this film. The result is a dreamlike logic. Wiene mesmerizes with angular Expressionistic sets and fantastic swirling. The way the German directors like Wiene, incorporated recognizable themes into their art movies was by far the most revolutionary development of any cinematic era.


                 The makers of this movie used various colored filters to create the effect of a color movie. Lightly colored shades of sepia tone, blue, and purple add narrative depth to queasy episodes of altered mental states. They accommodated extravagant mannerisms with heavy make-up and and dark costumes, which intensified the attitudes of the characters.

               "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" is a artistically uninhibited silent horror film, with a ingenious plot. This movie can be enjoyed by anyone, who appreciates a well told story. 

Trailer

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - IMDb

3 comments:

Indiawilds said...

This movies is of interest to me from an editing perspective.

Anupama K. Mazumder said...

Very moving snaps!

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Great read buddy :) Now have to check this film out