Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari Review

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

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

As you can see the left pillar is what catches your eye first, it should be slightly blurred to focus the view on the character. "The sets appear to be painted cardboard, but they give a psychedelic effect" is what Brian Koller thought. The reason why the sets are so disorientating is because they are all actually paintings, 2 dimentional painting hung on flat canvases.

"The image of three-dimensional people walking through this starkly two-dimensional world is disorienting, making the universe within Caligari seem slightly off-kilter". I also thought it was quite wierd and disorientating at the start during the dream sequence and the scene after. It was very hard to tell what the background was doing because the of the way it was shaded. The shading was also "painted" onto the set which made it static, this made everythings seem a bit unreal because ofcourse shadows were not being casted in the correct places.

I quite liked the makeup of the characters. The dark eyebrows and lashes of Cesare made him fit in well with the background and the dark rings around his eyes made him "look the part" (somnambulist).


  1. it IS a difficult film - easier perhaps to admire than to like - but I'm pleased you stuck with it: it's in your cultural DNA now; it might resurface when you least expect it - you never know; but, from this point on, when someone describes something as 'Expressionistic' or 'Caligari-esque', you'll be able to smile knowingly :-)

  2. oh - and, it may just be my computer, but the titles of all your blog posts appear on my screen as long, nonsensicial list - or ribbon of letters down the right hand side? If this is a problem with your template, can you fix it? Cheers.

  3. Hi Sean,

    Well done for completing 80% of the tutorials. However, week fours are missing. Problems? Can you finish the outstanding work and up load them before we move on.


  4. Yes Phil i have actually being trying to alter my layout over the past few days. I was trying to make some quicklinks on the side to different areas of work like research, sketches, digital painting etc but i didnt figure it out. I've labeled all my posts so when you click the label you can find everything in that topic but sorting out the sidebar seems difficult, im still trying to find out how to do it (similar to Leo's blog from 2nd year for example)

    And Alan i have had some problems with the bottle, which i have done but it hasnt rendered right. I will get onto finishing it all soon.

  5. If you haven't done so already, why not leave a comment on Leo's blog asking for some blogging hints and tips?