The Cabinet of Dr Caligari film reviews
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer is a silent horror movie. Told by the character Francis the film tells the story of Dr Caligari and his somnambulist (sleep walker) who are suspected of murder. Friends Alan and Francis visit a carnival where they meet Dr Caligari and his somnambulist who predicts Alan’s death by dawn the next day, when this prediction comes true Francis is determined to expose the killer, who he suspects is Dr Caligari.
The film features a dark and twisted visual style, the sharp lines and distorted shapes of the set reflect the characters mental state. The characters chairs are enlarged, the windows are out of shape and there are no smooth edges or soft lines presenting a harsh and cold environment. Trees are pointed and jagged and the sharp shape of the grass makes it look like knives. Lotte Eisner, author of the Haunted Screen wrote “objects in the film appear as it they are coming alive and seem to vibrate with an extraordinary spirituality” One exception to this is the scene in the bedroom of Alan’s fiancé Jane, here the lines are soft and smooth suggesting a warmer and calmer environment demonstrating Francis’ affection towards Jane. In the scene where Jane’s body is discovered at the side of the road the positioning of the body is like the lines of the set, with her arms and legs at angles to her torso. “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’s most visually dynamic sequence, where Veidt’s body is made just as askew as the sets themselves” Clayton Dillard Throughout the film the shapes and lines reflect the atmosphere and mood of this horror film. This technique continues to be used in the films up to the present day