Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari review

(fig1) Movie still

"The cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920) is a true eye-opener and a reminder that black and white movies do not necessarily result in a dull experience. From the set design to the acting, the movie gives the viewer a truly unique view-point. Most exciting of which was the chance to have a glimpse into the mind of the director Robert Wiene.
The film captures the attention from on of the first line "Everywhere there are spirits... They are all around us... They have driven me from hearth and home, from my wife and children." (Aellea.com, 2014). While the story unfolds one can only be left fascinated with the variety of different sets and their somewhat jagged design. The doors and windows look unreal and as if they would not serve their purpose, but seeing how actors interact with them in such a natural way can really make you forget about their lack of realism.
(fig2) Movie Still
As the story unfolds we start putting the puzzle pieces together. Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) presents a somnambulist at a fair in the little town of Holstenwall. After a rather dramatic awakening the somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt) whispers a prophecy about one of the characters dying by dawn. As the story progresses the viewer grows confident and could even try and guess what will happen at the end, but the plot twist at the end is where the real beauty of the film lays.
Interestingly even simple mechanics like changing the lens of the camera to blue can convey that the scene is portraying darkness and again it is a reminder that sometimes simplicity is enough for the viewer to understand the story.
The text frames with their jagged font and backgrounds add a lot to the whole experience. The narrative is very clear and everything in the film is working toward enriching it. Font, music, and visionary style all add up to create an outstanding atmosphere. Roger Ebert states, that director, Robert Wiene, is making a film of delusions and deceptive appearances, about madmen and murder. (Ebert, 2009) Which can explain a lot about the set design.
Visually exciting and with a clear message the film is one of those rare gems that leaves the viewer wanting for more and is created with so much visionary talent as if challenging the imagination. The film also serves as a reminder that we do not need speech to understand or convey a message. Vision transcends words and language.
(fig3) Movie Poster
Image list:
Figure 1: http://silentlondon.co.uk/2012/06/24/the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-with-martyn-jacques-at-the-soho-theatre-july-august-2012/ (accessed on 23 Sep. 2014)
Figure 2: http://kelleycartledgephotography.com/2012/02/05/inspiration-the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari/(accessed on 23 Sep. 2014)
Figure 3: http://www.cinematismo.com/expresionismo-aleman/el-gabinete-del-doctor-caligari/ (accessed on 23 Sep. 2014)

Aellea.com, (2014), [online] Available at: http://www.aellea.com/script/qC [Accessed 23 Sep. 2014].
Ebert, R. (2009). The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari Movie Review (1920) | Roger Ebert. [online] Rogerebert.com. Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/revimovie-the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-1920 [accessed 23 Sep. 2014]


  1. A very thoughtful review Vlad - well done :)

    I will just make a couple of points at the moment - firstly, always make sure that your film titles are in italics. It is also good practice to make up a brief title for the images you use, so for example above, 'Fig.2, Cesare the somnambulist awakes'. You should then refer to the image within the text, for example, ' As is shown in Fig.2...'etc.

    Quotes should also be italicised, and you need 3 per review.

    Other than that, a good start - keep it up! :)

  2. Thank you Jackie,
    Not sure if I should edit the review based on your feedback or just take note for next time?

    1. Hey Vlad - just take the advice into the next review - and well done on getting the first one written and published; as Jackie said, thoughtful and authentic. In terms of 'readability' consider leaving a line between each new paragraph and using the 'justify' option for the text layout (not align left, not align right, not align centre, the other one!). This will give your text elements a more 'bookish' quality and lend further credibility and professionalism to your writing on here. Good stuff :)