Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari directed by Robert Wiene

Fig 1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Poster

Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920’s silent horror film. This film has influenced many directors and the film industry to this day and really is the father of science fiction films. “A case can be made that "Caligari" was the first true horror film” (Ebert 2009). When this film was released it had an original plot and a fresh science fiction thriller theme. A good example of this films influence is seen in the film Shutter Island. This follows a deep engaging plot, revealing a little bit at a time of the main character.

This film has a very deep engaging plot which keeps the viewer’s attention. The film briefly touches on each of the main characters and keeps mystery with each one. Keeping the viewers intrigued and wanting to know more about the character. The sets emphasize the moods of each character well. “Cesare who’s the most striking figure in all of Caligari. Tall and gaunt, dressed in black, with his pale white face accentuated by the blackened lips” (Johnston 2005)
Fig 2. Cesare and Jane

The set design is very clever every scene has angled lines and uneven structure. There are also many shady areas down the alleys in the city which suggests an uneasy hint that ------ is not all what he appears to be. This reflects the workings and the complicated mental state of ------- mind. “The image of three-dimensional people walking through this starkly two-dimensional world is disorienting, making the universe within Caligari seem slightly off-kilter” (Merriam 2008). However the Asylum is the only place that makes sense with symmetrical buildings and lines radiating outwards from the centre of the courtyard. 

Fig 3. The Asylum Courtyard

However the film, despite how old it is still keep me interested. Being down to the clever set design with a fairly intriguing plot. The Film still seems dated due to the over acting and a few laughable scenes to the modern viewer. And parts of the plot are rather guessable. The more you read about this film the more interesting it becomes. Little hints and observations people have made really gives a feel to the film.

Illustration List

Wiene, R. (1920) Figure 1.  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Poster (Online) (Accessed on 03/11/11

Wiene, R. (1920) Figure 2. Cesare and Jane (Online) (Accessed on 03/11/11)

Wiene, R. (1920) Figure 3. The Asylum Courtyard (Online) (Accessed on 03/11/11)


Roger Ebert. (2009) (Online) (Accessed on 03/11/11)

Ian Johnston (2005) (online) (Accessed on 3/11/11)

Julia Merriam. (2008) (Online) (Accessed on 03/11/11)

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