Exploring the film, it is appropriateto discuss elements of it in which the Expressionist style stands out, and captures the attention of the audience. Aninteresting example of a scene which demonstrates the characteristics of theExpressionist style is the “Du musst Caligari werden” scene. Here, you have elementsof distortion, unease and fear, all features which the Expressionist style conveys.Initially you have the intertitle, which presents itself in an unsettling font,setting the scene and bringing about the eeriness. This is soon followed by amedium shot of Caligari, highlighting the exaggerated gestures and facial expressions.
Thisis symbolic of his compulsive nature and lust to carry on the real Caligari’sfiendish experiment, also giving a sense of anxiety for the audience watching. Thesinister connotations is further suggested in the next frame, opening up to avery unsettling setting. It is clear how the distortional aspect ofExpressionism is portrayed here. As elsewhere in the film, the outside looksjust as distorted as the inside, with the trees of similar design tilting inevery way and the pathway appearing very alienated. However the main focus ofthe scene is the use of on-screen text, with Caligari directly confronted byhis own unremitting thoughts. What makes this aspect of the scene socaptivating is the fact that we aren’t just seeing the protagonist’s thoughtson the screen, he himself can see them too, and in turn staggers towards them.
Thissymbolises the madness of Caligari, reinforcing the audiences feeling of fearand unease. Interms of the contents of the film “Das Cabinet des Doktor Caligari”, it isimportant to discuss how the different elements of Expressionism are portrayedthroughout the film. Itis important to consider what Expressionist cinema is and how its style has an effecton the telling of a story. Expressionism in cinema takes a different approachto produce a story in comparison to most other styles of film. It was acultural movement which first came to Germany at the start of the 20thcentury. The main characteristics of this movement include the utilisation ofanti-naturalistic, abstract and symbolic devices, such as picture sequences anddistorting the reality.
These traits are the signifiers of emotions and innerworld of the creator rather than reflecting nature as it is. Expressionismintroduced a whole new movement of film, with its innovative and unusual editingrhythms, distorted sets and exaggerated gestures performed by the characters. “DasCabinet des Doktor Caligari” coincides with these new, innovative filmingtechniques and methods, and brings out a whole new chapter in German cinema. “Personal freedom andalternative thinking”.
These were the conditions in Weimar Republic Germanyduring the pinnacle of the movement of Expressionism in film. The link between horror and Expressionism quicklybecame a dominant feature, and continued to be acclaimed in contemporary films,mainly because of the German expressionist masterpiece “Das Cabinet des DoktorCaligari”. It inspired many horror films in the followinggeneration, demonstrating a distinguished eeriness throughout, which became avital feature of embodying inner mental and emotional states of theprotagonist, in this case Caligari. Robert Weine’s “Das Cabinet des DoktorCaligari” is an example of a film which adapts the artistic elements into itsvisualisation, in order to create the strange, fictional world the audienceview. The main elements of the “Expressionist” style will be discussed in thisessay to underline the significance it has for this particular film.