The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari

1795 Words8 Pages
German films history began roughly when the Skladanowsky brothers created one of the first movie projector, which they called “Bioscop,” At the beginning of German film history, films were seen more as an entertainment activity, instead of serious art form. According to Studying German Cinema by Maggie Hoffgen, “from about 1910-1911, film went to a process of experimentation and innovation” (Hoffgen, 2009). Hoffgen also indicates, “the films such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Robert Wiene, 1919 started to employ the recognized artistic style of Expressionism” (Hoffgen, 2009). German expressionism was about inner experience and about emphasizing personal expression. This movement came right after the World War I. At this time, Germany was suffering…show more content…
As mention before, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari possesses a unique visual style often associated with German Expressionism. Robert Wiene, a director of this film, wanted the style to be extravagant and experimental. Distorted art scenery is used in almost every scene of this film. Tents, pillars, doors, walls, chimneys, roofs, and some other scenic designs are all depicted in an out of balance, and the floor is also diagonal. Contrast between white and black is heavily used, and lighting emphasizes it. A creepy and theatrical makeup like the one on Cesare 's eyes and Dr. Caligari 's face provoke anxiety and creates a weird atmosphere in this film. In addition, the costumes are made with bizarre designs, such as Cesare 's black whole body tights and restraint clothing. Another observation by critics of the film is that portrays expressionism as the image of a crazy man (Scheunemann 2011). A poet, Blaise Cendrars goes as far to say, “the film casts discredit on modern Art because the discipline of modern painters is not the hyper sensibility of madmen but equilibrium intensity and mental geometry” (Robinson 1997). To argue this observation is important to understand Expressionism movement and its relations to Dr. Caligari’s film. In the New York Time’s article written by Dave Kehr in 1923, he notes “Caligari has long been regarded as the first film to drew on the Expressionist movement in graphic art” (New York Times 1923). Expressionism was not concerned with beautiful aesthetics. It was more about creating reactions to the work. In this sense, Dr. Caligari’s film conveys similarities to the Expressionism movement because of the visual style of the background, props, costumes, makeup and specially acting. One of the most powerful characteristics of the film is expressionist acting. When one looks closely to the performance of the actors, it is clear that they do represent the emotions associated with Expressionism. According to Robinson’s views of Expressionism acting,
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