The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) is a silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene, that depicts a part of Dr. Caligari’s life where he and his faithful sleepwalker Cesare are linked to a series of murders in a small mountain village.
As the film is... silent, the music plays a massive role in the telling of the story and setting the pace of the film. When there are points of tension and violence the music becomes high pitched and the use loud crescendos and staccato’ed notes to add emphasis to movements on set. “Melodrama was the norm in silent cinema where the relationship between characters had to be communicated with gesture” (Nick Hilditch, 1st March 2001)
“The film's bizarre look. The actors inhabit a jagged landscape of sharp angles and tilted walls and windows, staircases climbing crazy diagonals, trees with spiky leaves, grass that looks like knives.” (Roger Ebert, June 3rd, 2009) Apart from the first scene in the film and the scene outside the hospital/ asylum, there are no 90 degree angles or straight lines in the scenery or buildings, which offsets the focus in the film, so that there is more focus on the actors and their movements on set. (Also, as this is a silent film, the gestures given by the actors need to be emphasized)
The direction and cutting throughout, makes the film run smoothly, “This has resulted in a series of actions so perfectly dovetailed as to carry the story through at a perfect tempo” (Variety Review – 1919) Particularly looking at the introduction, a very simplistic showing of credits wrote on a blackboard the rubbed out then re-wrote each time, however this adds flow and creativeness to the movie.
Having seen this film without being aware of its content, it is safe to say I have never seen a film like it, however the film did not grow tiresome or boring, due to crazy hand-drawn sets and twisted storyline throughout
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