I found this black and white film from 1920, directed by Robert Wiene very interesting as I have never seen anything of this style before. It is said to be “one of the most influential films of the silent era” (Rotten Tomatoes) and seems to have shaped the depiction of films (especially in the horror genre) ever since.As there was no sound other than theatrical type music accompanying the acting it left a lot to the viewer’s imagination in regards to characters voices and other sounds that may occur. Also the actor’s eccentric and over-exaggerative gestures were very theatrical and entertaining I thought that the set design was very unique, with crooked windows and buildings at strange angles which puts the viewer at a slight discomfort although keeps them interested in the scene. I also noticed how the furniture was very dated such as chairs with very tall backs and old paraffin-style lamps representing the time it was set in. Although the interior and exterior architecture wasn’t often very detailed it was always intriguing to me. There was a gentle fairground setting with simple tent/marquee structures and hanging bunting; the use of lighting was quite clever as in most scenes the corners were darkened or there was a circle of light around the character that was aimed to be focused on. In most scenes I found that the spaces and environments were very shadowed in places giving a mysterious, gloomy feel, which could be a reflection on the time that it was set in. Also I noticed the use of different coloured filters; there was the main greyscale tone, a sepia tone, a blue tint and occasionally a light pink tone. The black and white showed the present, sepia for the past and the blue represented the night time (Figure 1). As this is a silent film, the use of the coloured filters is a very effective technique to use to support the viewers understanding of the film’s narrative and really reminded me of how two different tones were used in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) (Figure 2). The fantasy drama following the Spanish Civil War uses a blue tinge to represent the coldness of the real world and a warm yellowish tinge to show Ofelia’s fantasy world – subtle but effective.
The somnambulist character Cesare (Figure 3) holds an interesting resemblance to Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (Figure 4) with the dark make-up and creepy stare.