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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

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Author Topic: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  (Read 239 times)
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« on: October 05, 2007, 11:59:09 pm »

The Greatness of the Film

The anti-climatic ending to the film is perhaps one of the first ever. The story draws in the attention and brings us to a faux-ending and as the narration rests, we’re taken to the real ending. Considering this was an idea that was conceived in the year 1920, it is quite astonishing. Once again, films like ‘The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari’ prove that the men and women of the early 20th century were not backward in their ideas.

The performances by all the lead actors: Friedrich Feher as Francis, Lil Dagover as Jane and Conrad Veidt as Cesare the Somnambulist are all exceptional considering that this is a silent film and there was no dialogue available at all. They never once fail to communicate the emotions of the characters. But the best among them is the performance delivered by Werner Krauss as the brilliantly insane Dr.Caligari. He strikes a chord of fear and fills the frame around him with a vibe of darkness.

The film was one of the first instances where Dutch Angles were used extensively to present a state of psychological imbalance in the story.

The shining example of Dr.Caligari has inspired film-makers over the following decades and continued living through the films that they made. ‘Dr.Caligari’ can be called as the first film to deal with the concept of Psychological Horror.

American Director Tim Burton is best known for the use of German Expressionist elements in his films. He creates beautifully dark environments for his films and often deals with the themes of horror and grotesque. His inspiration with Dr.Caligari is clearly apparent in his film ‘Edward Scissorhands’ where his Frankenstein-ish character Edward (played by Johnny Depp) clearly resembles the Somnambulist of Dr.Caligari. Another example is the villainous character ‘Penguin’ from Burton’s ‘Batman Returns’ who is a splitting image of Dr.Caligari himself. More so, his other films ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Corpse Bride’ are set against a beautifully grotesque atmosphere, much on the lines of Weine’s world of ‘The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari’.

Other film-makers who have drawn inspiration from Robert Weine’s magnum opus include: Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock and most recently Robert Rodriguez in ‘Sin City‘.

‘The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari’ is available for download here.
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