The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari is a film about a crazed doctor who opens a stall at the local carnival who displays the somnambulist Cesare and explains that he will answer any question that he is asked. However when Cesare predicts the main protagonists friends death, Francis finds himself involved in the Doctors schemes.
The film although very tough to get into had some amazing perspectives and amazing set design. In comparison with the films of the time Caligari was very dreamlike and the set design made this evident. Inside the rooms the structure is very disorientated and slanted making the audience have a similar feeling all linking in with the idea of dreamlike imagery. This could link with the mentality of Caligari himself or as we find out in the conclusion the sanity of the protagonist. Jeffrey Anderson agrees and writes: ‘Rather than attempting to capture "realism," which was the general method of the time, Wiene went the opposite route, slathering the screen with forced perspectives and all kinds of bizarre diagonals and slants; there is hardly a right angle to be found in this film. It results in vivid, dreamlike logic and a terrifying lack of control.’ http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/cabcaligari.shtml
There is a good use of colour in the film with Cesare being very dark and black, huge black eyeliner to frame his eyes, in use as a signifier of his constant sleep state and his dark deeds. In comparison of this the damsel of the film is coated in a flowing white dress and when kidnapped she is taken from a well lit white room caped in another flowing white material. The use of white could be a symbol for her innocence and that she is a good character while the colour black for Cesare and Caligari would connect with the sinister deeds that they act. Donald Levit also takes note in the use of colour: ‘In familiar genre pattern, the monster-murderer will come for the heroine, too, in her filmy white bedroom, where either her innocent beauty or his innate conscience stays his dagger-hand. Androgynously slender in baggy black, Cesare proves a powder puff, anyway, quickly tired when pursued and giving up his slight burden and seemingly his own ghost.’ http://www.reeltalkreviews.com/browse/viewitem.asp?type=review&id=3275
The Plot twist at the end is extremely contemporary and reminds me heavily of the twist at the end of Shutter Island in which all that the audience has been made to believe is true is in fact a twist in the mind of a mad man. This massive twist to the end really fits in well with the madness factor of the film and is a brilliant addition to the disorientating scenery as they complement each other well. John Nesbit agrees but compares the plot twist to that of the sixth sense in saying: ‘One is a great plot twist that doesn't play as simply as the one trick wonder of the recent The Sixth Sense. Although it may shock first time viewers, it doesn't feel manipulative or forced, and subsequent viewings reveal just how well its creators have developed the themes of madness; hence, the common association with Poe.’ http://oldschoolreviews.com/rev_20/caligari.htm
Although a film I found extremely hard to get into in looking at the set designs the film was amazing and the scene where Cesare kidnaps the damsel the disorientating climb is incredible. A very confusing film and although not something that I would consider a favourite the film was a worthy experience and worth noting about its design.