Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari - Film Review

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Film Review

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.


Rotten Tomatoes, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1920)


  1. Hi Megan,
    Well done getting your first film review out there!

    You have made some interesting observations around the use of light and shadow, and also around the discomfort that is created in the viewer through the use of the distorted set design.
    Don't forget, the brief asks you for 3 quotes from 3 different sources, so bear that in mind for your next review. Also, have a look here at how to reference your quotes correctly, and also how to construct your bibliography and illustrations list (yes, I'm afraid images need referencing too!)

    My only other comment at this time, would be concerning your 'academic voice'. Generally speaking, academic pieces are written in the 3rd person, as this allows you to develop your arguments in a more rational avoid using 'I think', and go for something like 'it would appear'. Here is a really good guide on using the 3rd person; it also is very useful in explaining how to embed quotes into your work successfully.

    I look forward to reading your next review! :)

    1. Cheers Jackie, I'll work on it for next time! :)

  2. Hi Meg :)

    Two things - one - just watch your template/format/images - notice your images are hanging over the edge of your blog template.

    and also - see link!

    1. Ok, sorted the over-hanging image problem :)

      About paying for Prague, if we pay the money now, and trip happens to get cancelled due to not having enough people or something.. we will still get the full amount back?