There’s a lot to love about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – murder and torture and ghouls, oh my! But what’s staggering about this silent classic is how well it’s art-design drives forth the twisted narrative.
So what seethed under the cultures skin that inspired the visual mayhem of German director Robert Wiene?
Yes, the sweet, sweet cultural context.
There was a time when conservative art simply served as a mirror to beautiful people.
Scenes often boasted the benign amusements of aristocracy that most folk found profoundly uninspiring.
This resulted in a collective “fuck you” from artists whose reaction was most apparent in the early twentieth-century.
The youth screamed for new noise and with the cultural impact of a crashing vorschlaghammer gave way to the “ism”.
One such movement sought to portray emotions rather than imitate physical reality and became known as Expressionism.
Although crude, expressionism used extreme distortion to underline an emotional experience.
This was a reaction to the dehumanizing effect of war, industrialization and the cancerous growth of cities.
The stories of Expressionist Films often dealt with themes of betrayal, alienation and madness.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an amazing example of powerful cinema executed with furious style and originality.
A lesson to modern filmmakers in seeking inspiration from art movement of their time rather than serving the interest of box office success or trends in contemporary movies.
For their daring vision, experimentation and exploration of storytelling we say Danke Schön!