Monday, 24 October 2011

Review of Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Francis, a young man, in his memory the horrible experiences with his fiancée Jane recently went through. Francis and his friend Alan visit The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an exhibit where the mysterious doctor shows the somnambulist Cesare, and awakens him for from his death-like sleep.

During the film when Alan asks Cesare about his future, Cesare answers that he will die before dawn. At the scene of this film was shocking and was unexpected. To the audience thinking that this could be a joke. This was at of the ordinary.

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920) is the film's bizarre look. The actors inhabit a jagged landscape of sharp angles and tilted walls and windows, staircases climbing crazy diagonals, trees with spiky leaves, grass that looks like knives”. (Roger Ebert, June 3rd 2009).. What is interesting about this is that for a first horror film. It’s disturbing because it has backgrounds that are distorted and walls and windows that are tilted and the colour of the film is doll because everything seems too much as a nightmare within a dream. It appears that the landscape of this film is in a perspective of its own. Where it’s all dislocated and put in all different angles and misplaced, but this meant to show deformity and horridness.

“The story is a classic sampling of expressionist paranoia about a hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to do his murders” (Robert Wiene), the meaning of somnambulist is sleepwalking so this approach it appears that this is used to killing in the film ‘cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The killer Cesare was getting away with it. But it shows a unique style and approach to this story. That Cesare is in a cabinet and during the night is killing people with a knife. So it seems the film is going into cycle. But in this film it shows throughout that there is a lot of expressionism with the amount of acting, though it’s all narrative.

“When Alan a little hastily enquires after the date of his own death he learns that he has until dawn”.(Nick Hilditch, 1st March 2001). This part of the film it shows Alan is very keen to know how long he well live. But has shock of his life when Cesare tells him ’dawn well be your death’. This was unexpected you would think that it’s just a joke, until the day after he is found dead. It appears that the approach to this film is funny yet has a horrific theme going on at the same time.

List of Illustrations:

Fig 1. Poster of the cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Fig 2. Cesare and Master.

Bibliography: Roger Ebert, 3rd June 2009. ‘Chicago Sun Times’
From ‘Time out Film Guide’ From ‘BBC’ Nick Hilditch, 1st March 2001.

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