Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cinematic Spaces Film Review: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), is considered to be one of the most influential silent horror films ever made. Directed by Robert Wiene, the film used weird, strange, and elaborate settings and sedt design to help create atmosphere throughout the film to help the lead audience through the not so known horror genre.

Figure 1

 “With its unusual look and neatly folding method of storytelling "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is an artistically uninhibited silent horror film that still sends chills.” (Cole Smithey, 2011)
The set design use throughout the movie gives it a very unique style, and leads the viewer through the set in such a way that it is both very visual outstanding but  visual normal, in the sense that it becomes ‘invisible’ after a while. The very vivid use of shadows also helps the set stand out in a big way, in many cases the shadows where painted right on to the set, which never moved or changed. This created a sense of depth, and exaggeration on set size and design.

Figure 2

“Pre-dating even early genre landmarks Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1926) by some distance, Robert Wiene's silent film is both influential and one of a kind.” (Catherine Bray, 2010)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has influenced a great number of film designers, over the years many film, theatre and song directors have used the film for influence. Tim Burton used it as influence for his 1990 film Edward Scissorhands the aesthetics of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari can be seen in the look of the main character Edward Scissorhands.

Figure 3

It is difficult to imagine the film done better with the benefit of sound, colour, or any innovation since. “ (Nick Hilditch 2001)
It is indeed rather difficult to imagine the movie in colour and with sound. This is what leads the remakes and re- imaginations to be not so visually stunning and involving as the original. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a stunning film that grabs you from the opening scene and holds onto right until the ending, the set designs, and characters will stick around with for years after seeing the film for the first time.

Review Bibliography
Catherine Bray -                              (accessed 5/10/12)


Film Still 1 (Fig 1)
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