The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is an old german post war film made in 1920, directed by Robert Wiene. It is a silent expressionist film.
I found this film hard to concentrate on, mainly because i was tired, but more so because the plot wasn't very engaging. As Merriam said in her review "Overall, the plot seems almost stagnant, as if it has nothing new to offer". From what i gathered this mad doctor made an appearance in town with quite an unusual person he kept in a coffin, called Cesare. He later went on to using Cesare as a tool for murder. The story has a little twist where Cesare messes with the wrong person so to speak, that being a close friend of Francis who is the hero of the story. The ending is quite predictable from there on.
the scenery was the most interesting aspect of the film. From the beginning i noticed how they morphed the shape of the scenery to show some perspective and depth. The way they did it was quite clever but was also a bit confusing on some of the wider shots because they didnt use camera tricks to make foreground and background distinguishable. Here's a still image from the film showing an example of this
Heres the final outcome of my hybrid splice project
The reason i've only put 2 pictures up is because i've been having a lot of problems uploading pictures. I finally found a temporary fix but its process takes time and the image quality is really bad. I thought i'd just put up the main ones for people to see.
Splice was written and directed in 2009 by Vincenzo Natali, the film was released on the 23rd of July 2010. The film starts off in a laboratory where we first meet Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley). They are in the middle of an experimentation to create a hybrid creature using a variety of different animal genes. From here we watch the story progress as the hybrid, later named Dren, grows.
I found splice to be a very interesting film, yet very irritating at times. For example, the scene where Elsa tries to tame the creature and refuses to leave the room when she is putting her life in danger really frustrated me. Who in their right mind would do something so stupid when you know nothing about the hybrid? Especially when the thing has already caused you some harm resulting in you having a fit. Bearing in mind this film isn’t real, nor is it trying to be, I thought this part of the film was one of the most unrealistic and was just a silly act of bravery.
Claudia Puig from USA Today says,“The story raises questions about her damaged upbringing, then inexplicably drops them”.This quote is from Puig’s review of the film, the quote is talking about Sarah Polley’s role in the film as Elsa. I believe this could relate to why she takes the risk of interacting with the creature. Later on we do find out that Elsa did in fact include her genes in the creature, which brings her and the audience to believe that the creature is, in a sense, her baby. However seeing as this is an “experiment”, and Dren is only a few days old at the time, she shouldn’t have let herself become that attached in the first place. This brings me back to my point of it being a silly act of bravery and I stand by that statement. Claudia’s statement also brings up the question about Elsa having a damaged upbringing. What I actually see it as is not a problem with her upbringing, but with the stage she at in her relationship. Because Elsa and Clive are always working in the lab they don’t get to spend much personal time together. There’s a scene in the film where Clive says “its been a long time” whilst rubbing Elsa’s leg in a suggestive way, this is a telltale sign of their relationship not being the way it used to be before the heavy workload perhaps? I feel this is strong evidence that explains why Elsa would include her own genes in the creation of the hybrid.
I agree with what Ebert has said here. I also noticed is that they didn’t really give any insight to Dren’s personality or feelings. The only emotion’s she really displays in the film is frustration, anger, and occasional happiness. For being the only creature of her kind I think Natali could have blown us away by giving Dren some character, especially since she’s part human (Elsa). It’s a little disappointing to feel that this film took the easy option of simply having the hybrid be an experiment that acts animalistic throughout, instead of say making her have more personality traits of Elsa. “The non-infant Dren is played by Delphine Chaneac and assorted CG parts. Chaneac emits only weird cries and whines and is limited to making the facial expressions of a confused toddler”. If they can do it for comic characters made in the 60s then they can certainly do it now, and probably to a better standard. One of many examples of hybrid characters in comics is Henry “Hank” P. McCoy, also known as Beast from X-Men. Hank’s father Norton McCoy was exposed to massive amounts of radiation while working at a nuclear power plant, this lead to his son Henry being born a mutant who showed signs of being different from birth. Although he has been mutated into a beast with superhuman agility, he is still highly intelligent, speaks fluently and comes across a kind gentle being.
Turnaround of Beast in final furry form
What I found interesting about the film is that, out of all the films we watched, it was the first to show the actual progression of the hybrid, from birth to death. This was very helpful in a number of ways. The first is that it helped me a lot with ideas for my final character design. Although it was the last film we watched on this topic, and some may think at this stage it would be too late to make alterations to my character, it actually helped me on a major deciding factor of what to incorporate into my portrait. Splice was also the first film to include more then one transformation of the hybrid. I got to see the transitions of each transformation and learnt about how current state of mind and mood swings could influence the changes Dren made. This helped with the anatomical side of creating a hybrid with human traits and also the emotional side in of how I might look in my portrait based off my own personality.
A noticeable factor about this film is that it’s the one of very few films about metamorphosis that wasn’t scared to exploit the areas other films are afraid of touching upon, which is metamorphosis and sex. All other films of this genre have a sexual implement, at some point in the film, in which they fail to make completely apparent due to a variety of reasons. For example the 1940’s film Cat People, written by Jacques Tourneur, was about a woman who would transform into a panther if she became sexually aroused. Being a film made in those days it wasn’t really acceptable to show sex on film, nor was to see a woman going off with more then one man. Sex for women was only really acceptable for married women and only with their husbands. A woman who went off with more then one man was automatically considered a whore no matter the circumstances. This is very different to nowadays where a woman can have sex with a boyfriend, split up with him, then find another boyfriend and have sex again. It’s not seen as so much of a sin unless the woman is actually acting like a whore the way we describe one today. A more erotic remake of the 1942 classic Cat People was actually made in 1982 which included scenes of a sexual nature. Images of that scene in bibliography(didn’t feel like posting the actual pictures in the blog).
Still Splice took this to a whole new level. Not only is the concept of sexual fantasy within metamorphosis induced in this film, they actual have a sex scenes where Clive is somewhat seduced by Dren. For some people this could be seen as quite fulfilling, but for many others including myself it was quite the cringe factor so have to sit and watch that. During the film it made me think “why would the director actually do this”?! To add that little something extra Dren actually transforms during intercourse and sprouts wings, evidently showing that she’s undergoing pleasure and maybe even reached climax. To take things even further there’s also a rape scene near the end involving Dren’s male form and Elsa. This I thought was sick because 1, it was quite graphic and 2, because Elsa’s DNA is part of Dren this could be seen as incest, its done in quite a subliminal way however. This is brought up in a review by Natali himself and he says:
“I think that’s where Splice steps into places that other films have not tread, or perhaps have been a little afraid to tread because there is a sexual component to this story. There’s a sexual component to the relationship between the scientist and the creature that’s about as froidient as you can get.”
-5 second intermission-
“The prime directive of any life form is to procreate, and when you create something like Dren, that’s an aspect of her being that you’re going to have to address. I think what’s so wonderful about the horror genre is that it gives you licence to go to places that you could never comfortably go with a normal film. If we made a movie about….incest…that’s a film that probably not many people would wanna’ see, but if you make a horror film that on a almost subliminal level deals with that theme, it actually could be wildly popular”.
I’ll end this review by saying the film was a great exploration of many different areas both scientifically and erotically. The design of the hybrid throughout the film was a good touch and this helped me with my own hybrid project. Things I personally didn’t like were lack of Dren’s Personality. The odd sex scenes where not my thing either.
The Elephant Man, directed by David Lynch, is a film about a man who suffers from major deformation of the face. He originally lives with a twisted man who mistreats him and only uses him as a side show freak to earn money. A Victorian surgeon named Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) later rescues the elephant man, aka John Merrick, and soon discovers that he’s not as scary as he looks.
Out of all the films we watched I think this particular film came from a totally different perspective in terms of metamorphosis. Instead of becoming “infected” with some mysterious phenomenon one day, or being inflicted or cursed by some evil spirit which might have lead to some sort of transformation, John Merrick is actually born deformed and does not transform during the film. This automatically brings more sense of realness to the film and makes you feel more emotion for the character, not to mention it actually being adapted from a true story. It makes you think more about the situation he’s had to live his life in and how people react when he’s around. These factors surely will reflect to some viewers who have their own disability which makes them stand out the way John Merrick does, before and after he became famous, and how it makes them feel. This was the main reason I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
The progression and narrative structure of the story was also done very well. In the beginning Merrick doesn’t really say much, which leads to Treves thinking he is stupid. As the film progresses, Merrick starts to show intelligence and creativity. We first discover this in the scene when Merrick is being introduced to the hospital governor Carr Gomm at the hospital. We see his creative side when he is sculpting a church seen from out of his window using cardboard. This was good in many ways as it showed that although he is not very accepted in the public eye and was mistreated in the past, he is still able to get to like people and open up to them. This was also a turning point in the film where, because he was actually intelligent, he became more respected and famous in a positive way. However, as the above reviewer says, Treves became stressed after taking a step back to think about this whole situation. He wondered if what he was doing was for the good or bad, whether he was simply being kind to the elephant man or using him for his own selfish reasons of becoming a more recognised doctor (this point it subtly brought up in a scene in the middle of the film). To an engaged audience this is a great build up of suspense which leads to an unpredictable climax, but also is a bit of an eye opener on how people act to get what/where they want. This is something that happens everyday to this day.
As for the acting and cinematography I thought it was very good, you would think that John Hurt (the elephant man) was really like that in real life (it was that good). The face was actually done using makeup which is very impressive. What helped it look so good was also the lighting and camera work. The film is black and white and you see that all the characters are simply black and white, but when filming the elephant man they add more shades of grey which enhance the look of his face and give it more detail. Also the recreation of the time period (19th century London at the peak of the Industrial Revolution) was nicely done, for example dirty streets, smog, and the constant of noise of machinery are everywhere.
Overall I enjoyed this film a lot more then some others we have watched, reason being is that it had more of a sense of realism and told a good story. I also like the narrative structure this film followed, it was more my style.