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German expressionist style in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Essay

The cabinet so referred to is one of the first and the most popular examples ever laid down to show the German expressionism. It has set its foundations by the year 1919 categorically to purely coincide with the First World War where the Germans were influential by all means. The film is popular not only because of this but also for the commentary that is revolved around a political and social climate. The characteristics of these times were those of horror and fear. The style displayed the attributes of fear and horror that was present in the German public as a result of fear of counter revolution and revolution.

During these times the country was struggling with all kind of hardships necessary for economical development. These included those of financial, political, social and structural hardships. However the militarists and other government organs were busy struggling for control of the country (Hirsch 54). In addition to the theme that comes out of the film, scenes and sets also contribute a great deal to bring out the expressionist style. The bar two brings out a whole new level of horror and fear display in essence enhancing the theme.

In addition, this is what that revolves round the public showing an essence of psychological state that is totally deranged. The main character in the film also is influential in bringing up this subject in an interesting way. This is all about the scene arrangement. The sets are well placed and convenient as well as effective to objectively work out the manner in which the inner world of the main character Francis that is subjective. They mainly showed the torture and the insanity state through which he was going through (Packer 23).

In addition to scenery, the background clearly captures the times and the air that is present which is the theme. It consists of buildings that seemed to have been built so long ago that have lurched out from the ground angles that seem to be canted. In addition the interior itself displays the disturbing nature of the theme. They have a false lighting and shadows that seem to be haunting (Lagerroos 25). The scenery is also stylized to show the disturbing effect including the dimensions that are extremely exaggerated the use of the dimensions that are spatial in a deranged manner.

Their use by the director is such that they enhance the unworthiness of the jagged angular set designs in addition to bringing out the fear, tension and psychological horror climate that completely reflected on the turmoil that the country was going through at that time. The screen writers in this movie, Janowitz Hans and Mayer Carl undoubtedly have the terrible society of the Germans in their minds in the year 1919 and as a result are responsible of creating sets that bring out their thoughts into play.

The negativity of the old regime in its thoughts that eventually lead to destruction and eventually death of many of the inhabitants of this country are emphasized by this set amidst the theme of terror and fear. The message so brought in the movie is as clear as its main focus was pointed at the strong anti-authoritarian regime. Moreover, those in authority in the film came out as people who were totally insane all through to the film ending.

It is was learned that this was an enforcement of the director Weine, who had no choice but to succumb to those involved in the studio to make sure that the whole movie is censored which was now controversial (Roberts 179). The demonstration of the German hierarchal nature its an evident attack on the existing society in Germany including all the important figures in the film for instance the police, the town clerk, and Caligari. To further show the ridiculousness of their norms, they use to sit on very high stools and chairs while their offices were located upstairs.

Irony brings out itself very clearly when this placement is compared to that of a man who was wrongfully jailed for Alan’s death. His base was located in the basement of the building in a locked up cell. Despite of all this, the department of Dr. Caligari which was seemingly the cabinet at that time, was instrumental in questioning the powers held and the respect so displayed by the authority that was in power. The make up and the costumes that are being worn by the characters in the movie are clear indications of the visual expressionistic style.

Caligari and Cesare, Caligari’s kids all have intense make up and the gloves that are worn with the pronounced lines at their under side. Such make up are so intense such that its combination with the make up clearly show the transformation that their face underwent so that they become more of a withered, creaseless face. Such kind of outward presentation showed their evilness, enhanced further by their not conventional kind of hairstyles that anyone would term as crazy (Rausch 48).

The actor’s performances were also additionals to the costumes, styling and sets ways of expressing the exaggerated film expressionism. In connection to their performances their roles and presentation clearly showed their unrealistic and stylish as well as overacting that is evident in the screen play from the start to the end. It is a form of the melodramatic style moved to the next level by its characteristic lack of sound. The movements done by Cesare were all overacted and overdone while he crossed the sets while gliding just the form in ballerina in a fluid.

This act added to his appearance to that of a menacing one. These actions that were kind of melodramatic included those of other actors too. These actions were important to the characters as they were able to fit into the sets without which they would have turned to be kind of mellow and out of place in the sets. However, this kind of acting that was embraced by all members of the film and the characters was coincidental to the theme that was being emphasized as well as enhancing the state of the German condition at the time.

The film was crucial to bring out the terrible conditions that were present at the time and this was important also to bring out the fear and the horror. It harmonized the German society with their fears and feeling afraid as well as bringing out their discontent in an astonishing kind of form (Hayward 175). Another addition to the expressionism theme in the film is the visual effects that were nurtured during the filming of the movie that particularly brought the horror and fear in an astounding way.

Filming of the movie was crucial as the various kinds of scenes were shot in such away to enhance the theme. The scenes were strong, longer than average, zoomed into focus to the reactions that depicted all lot of emotions, establishment of shots that concentrated on the reactions on their faces in essence trying to display their psychological angst, turmoil and tension. This was carefully done such that it was able to capture a sense of realism in the film. The strange visual in the film that had a lot of impact on the film viewers was enhanced by the up close shots.

This worked perfectly with other effects so added to bring out the theme. The lighting was also instrumental through the expressionistic shadows and lighting where necessary, combination of the light and contrast to capture the mood, atmosphere, danger, and turmoil, psychological states and fear. The film was one of the state of the art pieces of material that was instrumental to attest to the social situation that explained the dilemma in the German society that it faced in the year 1919.

The masterpiece is characteristic of the expressionistic style with a combination of Germans sets; make up, lighting and acting (Rausch 48). Work cited Hayward, Susan. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. New York: Routledge, 2000. Hirsch, Foster. The dark side of the screen: film noir. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2001. Packer, Sharon. Movies and the modern psyche. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. Rausch, Andrew. Turning Points In Film History. Seattle: Citadel, 2004.


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