Sunday, 27 September 2015

Space Oddities, Film Review: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari)

If you were to ask most people about the first major plot twist in cinematic history, I feel the majority would say the Sixth Sense, or if they had an above average movie archive possibly the original Psycho. In fact I would have said Pyscho too, if it weren't for recently viewing the 1920 german classic Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari).

The entirety of the film except for a few short scenes is set in a series of flashbacks, told from the perspective of the protagonist, Francis, as he retails the story of how he met his supposed fiancĂ©e, and how they experienced traumatic event's at the hands of a Doctor and his Somnambulist. You find out at the end of the film, that the entire story excluding the scene's outside of the flashbacks, is actually based on fictional thought's of Francis, who is in fact a patient of a mental hospital, where his fiancee is actually just another random patient, and the supposed mad scientist doctor archetype is actually his own psychiatric doctor. This is the films big plot twist "It also owns the claim to the first ever plot twist in film, although this was not the movies original  intention, the director was asked to change the original ending as it was thought to be too strong. What must the 1920’s audiences made of this gruesome venture, the likes of which they had never seen before." (Ellinger, 2013)

Fig. 2

This can explains the design of the world the film takes place im, through-out the feature you see that structures, buildings, and other scenery,  everything is warped, twisted and bizarre looking, everything has strange angles and wouldn't really make sense in the real world "Nothing is naturalistic in the world they create, with bizarre angles, crazy patterns, and distorted proportions setting the film in a stage-like world obviously not our own" (Boslaugh, 2014). This is because the entire world we saw in the flash backs has been conjured by the thought's of a madman, and this can be perceived as  his broken view on the world.

Fig. 3

Finally this movie ends on a rather somber note, where its left for the viewer to decide who was really telling the truth, and to decide the fate of the characters for our own, a trope which will become common place in the cinema's of today "Nothing is to be trusted: the narrator is unreliable and damaged from the first frame; the actors’ non-realistic performances suggest they are all being directed by some meta-Caligari, and the sets suggest an insidiously psychic, rather than actual, landscape. Even the ‘happy ending’ is enigmatically creepy. The psychiatrist’s sudden revelation that he now knows how to treat the patient feels as much like a threat as a promise." (Bleasedale, 2014)


(Ellinger, 2013)
(Boslaugh, 2014)
(Bleasedale, 2014):


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  1. Hi Brad,

    Good to see your review up here :)

    A couple of pointers... try not to write in the first person, as you have done in your opening paragraph. Have a look back at the group blog, where Phil has posted a list od 'dos and donts'.

    Keep your font consistent throughout - it changes size and style half way through. Also have another quick look at the referencing guide, so that you can refine how your bibliography should look.

    You have made some very valid and interesting observations Brad, and have backed them up with relevant quotes... looking forward to reading your next one!

    1. Thanks Jackie, and whoops, the font must have changed when I pasted a quote and I didn't notice.

    2. Strangely, when I went to check to see what had happened, I found the entire review was actually previewing in the same font, so I have no clue why its come out like that when published... (screenshot)

  2. Brad do some thumbnails I want to see what you got man