Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Film Review: Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari - Robert Wiene, 1920

This 1920 silent movie was the template for Horror Films.

Dr Calligari, a hypnotist,  comes to town with his coffin sized cabinet containing the corpse like figure Cesare.  Panic and terror is caused as a series of murders appear to coincide with his visit.

Using crooked and uneven shapes and a range of different minimal, small sets the director creates a spooky, and eerie setting.

Within Jane's environment the shapes of furniture and soft furnishings are rounded and curved and appeared even feminine. Elsewhere the sets were angular and stark which added to the horror and madness of the movie.

The use of shadow and light extends the set. The light at times appears harsh and creates tension. On other occasions it is softer, creating shadows on the wall.

The scenes were often empty, with large expanses of floor space and even then a single chair placed strategically.

The wooden floors and the angular, slanted, tilted shapes suggested the film was set in an attic environment. Due to the angle, furniture often appeared deformed.

Throughout the film different scenes would emerge as if the viewer was looking through a lens building the sense of curiosity and drawing the viewer into the environment.     Although the film jumped to various, different locations this kept the viewers attention but you could also argue that this made the film difficult to follow.

Each room had its own style and mood, which seemed to be expressing each of the characters personality. For example: Dr. Caligari's room was small and concealed, completely
contained. This could have been a portrayal of  his devious and secretive character.

The  Asylum stood out because it was more refined and real looking.  This  created a juxtaposition for the audience because it could be argued that the Asylum should have looked the least ordinary. The Asylum consisted of a more familiar structure, with simple  arch shapes and perfect rectangular walls.  This reinforced the message that in fact the world outside of the Asylum was the more complicated one!

My very first attempt at Photoshop (using shapes)

Using shapes, I created an abstract image to show my ideas of what Esmeralda may look like:

"In Esmeralda, city of water, a network of canals and a network of streets span and intersect each other. To go from one place to another you have always the choice between land and boat: and since the shortest distance between two points in Esmeralda is not a straight line but a zigzag that ramifies in tortuous optional routes." Italo Calvino