Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Space Oddities review - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' directed by Robert Wein in 1920 has certainly been an inspiration and influence to our modern directors, such as Tim Burton. Instantly the mise en scene is obscured and unnatural yet the people living in the location act as if it is the norm. "Reality is reproduced as if it were reflected in a fun house mirror. The distortions , however, do not obscure the objects but instead render them in distorted shapes". Merrick Doll, The Modernism Lab. 

I feel this film is open to interpretation, was the young Francis simply going insane? Is Dr. Caligari who he seems to be or a professor at a asylum? "a film of delusions and deceptive appearances, about madmen and murder" Roger Ebert, 2009. The design of the set contributes to the horror theme, not just because of the quirkiness but also the spacing. The small empty spaces with nothing more than (sometimes) just black crooked lines could suggest how confined we are to whats really going on; reality. It seems Francis breaks out of the 'confined space' and pays a consequence for it.

Wein has installed some conventions of the horror genre that we still see today. "often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era" PublicDomainReview, 2011. With his set being diagonal and angular he has deliberately elongated the shadows to make the 'shadow-maker' seem more intimidating and menacing whereas the distressed victim, who is unaware, now becomes more vulnerable. It is the 'unknown' that gives this film the scare factor. I think Wein wanted to play off of 'your'e only aware of what is shown to you or what wants to be revealed to you' and if you are able to discover something (that you shouldn't have) what and if are the consequences?


  1. Hello again!
    I reckon you were writing this, as I was commenting on your last post... so have a look there for my feedback!
    Again, though, you make some insightful comments here - your reference to the shadows and the shadow makers in this piece are particularly interesting...

  2. Dont worry i have taken your advice on board but its true i posted them both right after one another :) Thanks again