Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari Analysis

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Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1919) „Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari“ is often said to be a milestone of film history because of its very obvious expressionist style. But I would claim that this is not only because it was the first expressionist film but because of its strong influence on the filmmakers for decades. I would even claim that Wiene was one of those who founded the modern horror film. But tho judge this I will know look a bit closer to the relevant aspects of the film. First I want to look at the expressionist characteristics. The expressionism was a movement against the naturalism as a consequence of the first world war. The people had experienced such cruelty and violence and the were paralyzed that they weren't really able to create art and film like before. So they had to find a way to show things in a new way. So the characteristics of expressionist films were unrealistic visuals that should show the feelings and thoughts of the time. And that is the most obvious individualistic style of “Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari”. There are almost no horizontals or verticals used but diagonals and corners. The whole production design looks very unstable and broken. It's said that Wiene had lit the stage completely and painted the shadows to have fully control over them. These were really hard and polygonal (We later see this use of hard shadows two years later in “Nosferatu”). Together the production design creates a disturbing feeling. And that is the first thing that was pretty new for this time. The film was still in the beginning and the emotional part of film was mainly the story. But Wiene has found a new technique to frighten the viewers. The compostitional part of the film. He used for this time very fast editing, the people weren't familiar with. So they were really confused and disturbed. The actors had very unrealistic and creepy make-up.

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