The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

The first of several films presented to us, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is a 1920 horror silent film featuring the deranged Dr Caligari and his faithful sleepwalker (parasomnia) in connection to several murders in the village of Holstenwall.

From a narrative point of view, it was a little confusing though eventually made some sense. The plot twist was a little unconvincing for me, perhaps as I was most absorbed in Francis's story that it did not occur to me that events were not as they first seemed. I was most impressed by some of techniques used particularly in the stage and shot design in communicating a sense of space. Often scenes would be shot with a range of foreground, midground and background elements that together create a sense of depth and atmosphere in the composition of the scene.

Overall, I found the film more intriguing that entertaining. I'm beginning to find silent films fascinating in the way they must communicate emotions and narrative through visual means alone, often resulting in some dramatic yet effective storytelling techniques that we often take for granted. The audio that is left results in some dramatic orchestral pieces that may seem a little cliche, but serve the film wonderfully in the tonality of the film.


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