Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) Review

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
Directed by: Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was shamefully my first ever silent movie, but nether less I did enjoy some parts of the movie; but my overall view consisted of it being short paced with a fast ending.
Key areas of the film that struck me as advanced for its time is the ability of storytelling, for example, we are presented with two men at the beginning just minding their own business until they see a woman, and one man tells the other about his past with that particular woman, and this is how the story continues, through the eyes of one man, but (and I speak for myself alone) I did lose track of him telling the story, and I did buy into everything he was saying as “true events”, which, considering the ending, seemed to be the goal for the director.

Most my review’s in the next five weeks will focus on set design and environments in which the movie takes place, and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, although hold, can definitely hold its own.
“With its sharp angles and distorted shapes Expressionism--like Cubism and other Modernistic art--strives to impose emotional content on the objects portrayed.”

It was a real interest to myself to see strange set designs in such a dated movie, it definitely made the movie more entertaining, but I couldn’t for love nor money find a reasoning for this until the end…

“Staggering light patterns and deep shadows are used to portray the way the insane look at the world. The stylized set design is among the most impressive I have ever seen.”

Upon reading several reviews, it became apparent that the set designs where influenced in the mind of the protagonist, (of course myself unaware at the time) the main protagonist is actually insane, and it shows the world through a insane persons head

The set itself was very sharp, wonky and also very tight, even some objects within the scenes were presented abnormally, for example, pretty much all chairs within the entire movie seemed to come up to the waist of the characters. The movie has also been a foundation for many movies to present, such examples continue to be…

“One needn’t look far in the culture to see its manifestations, from the works of Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all come readily to mind) to more unexpected places (such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video for their single “Otherside”).”

I personally found quite a few similarities between this movie, and recently released “Shutter Island” with the aspect of everything been viewed via one person’s prospective of the word and their surroundings…

“One is a great plot twist that doesn't play as simply as the one trick wonder of the recent The Sixth Sense. Although it may shock first time viewers, it doesn't feel manipulative or forced, and subsequent viewings reveal just how well its creators have developed the themes of madness; hence, the common association with Poe. With its multiple layers the deceptive melodramatic screenplay has held up over the years as a real shocker--the kind that certainly had to please the Master of Suspense himself.”

The use of music was also very different, for example, there were scenes were you would suspect loud, brave and aggressive tones, but instead there was only silence, almost like a gloomy doom, the main scene that did this that caught my eye was the attemtped kidnap/rape scene, the entire scene went silent.
The plot twist towards the end was completely unseen for myself, I was a complete ‘sucker’ and bought into the entire movie, regardless of the environment.

As mentioned before the plot is paced, but the ending is thrilling, it doesn’t hit you in the face, but makes you change your personal views on one person completely, which is a very strange and powerful feeling.

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