I found the angles and triangular shapes used in this film very interesting. Images of triangles with a pointed tip repeatedly showed up. The houses, the walls of the center of the asylum, and the sharp pointed object that was used to murder the victims all resembled this shape. Perhaps, the triangle tip represents the point right before a person goes insane and falls over the edge. It is a point that changes lives drastically and in negative ways. This is just like the sharp object that takes away the victims' lives. Connecting this idea to the asylum walls, the asylum takes over the patient's lives, again just as the sharp object. The use of the pointed triangle also goes along with the tension that occurs during parts of the film; being on the edge with tension of falling over.
The settings in the film reminded me heavily of Dr. Seuss. I have to wonder if Dr. Seuss was inspired by the people that created Dr. Caligari. There are odd shapes of buildings in odd places and the settings that are displayed are readily used when it looks like they are part of the background. To me it seems like these were used to not only invoke a sense of alternate reality to us, but also to keep us thinking, surprised, and on our feet during the film. While it was not wildly off in this sense, I think that this is a good film that set a bar to movies that want to keep the people surprised and full of thought in ways different than the normal way of thought.
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I thought it was interesting how the Somnambulist seemed rather stoic or tame except for when he was involved in either murder or rape. Due to the fact that so much of the film revolved around psychiatry and mental illness, I feel like this was a comment on basic human nature. Additionally, the film was created in 1920, meaning the concepts of Freud had already been introduced. By this, I am inferring that the Somnambulist is pure id and feeds off basic human desires which would thus illustrate what the creators of Dr. Caligari see as basic human desires.
I found that the reactions of the actors/actresses throughout the film tended to show overly dramatic expressions. As we talked in class, the difference between films back then to now have changed tremendously but in this silent film compared to others, the expressions did seem to be over the top. I don't know if this is correct, but I feel that because of what the story line was, it was necessary to be more dramatic than usual to allow the viewers to get a better understanding of what tragedies were occurring. Also, the color schemes that were brought out in different scene definitely stood out to me especially after our group discussion. It all goes back to what McCloud teaches us in his novel on how colors can have a strong and powerful meaning behind them.
When thinking about "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," I couldn't help but think about Chapter 6 of McCloud's "Understanding Comics," 'Show and Tell.' McCloud says that in expressionist art, words and images literally show and tell; They work together. This is evident in the film. We were first presented with the image, and then were shown the dialogue of that particular scene. The image alone portrayed specific emotions and actions, and the dialogue that we were presented with afterwards tells what we were just shown. Together, the image and the dialogue complete the picture. The dialogue tells the scene as it is, while the image let's us know the emotions involved. Separately, the words and the images of the film convey their own meanings, but the combinations cause us to evaluate the images with regards to the text, as well as cause us to evaluate the text with regards to the images. As a result, the relationship between the images and the dialogue are interdependent, as McCloud would say. Essentially, the whole meaning is conveyed through both the images and the words, as we discussed in class.
To me, the most apparent similarity between Dr. Caligari and Vertigo was the use of sharp angles. Both works use this somewhat disturbing use of lines as a way to evoke feeling in the viewer or reader. In Vertigo, there are some strong statements being made about the political situation in America at the time. The drastic use of angles is meant to spark emotion in the reader's mind that something is off. When applying this feeling to the context of the story, it is clear that Ward thinks that the situation in the early 30s is not what it should be, and pushes further to explain the problems. With Dr. Caligari, the exact intent of the angles is a bit unclear to me, but the entire movie is about mental illness. There is a clear connection to the angles indicating that something is off in the mind of the narrator, but I feel as if there is deeper purpose. I feel that the movie is trying to make a statement about how mental illness is portrayed in society but I'm not exactly sure where to go from there.
While watching The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari I found the design for the background to be very distracting. I wasn't sure why the director decided to portray the city in a seemingly abstraction. The buildings all possessed a jaggedness and seemed unreal. I tended to stop paying attention to the characters and stare at the scenery instead. Other than for the purpose of creating an eerie atmosphere, I couldn't figure what the strange setting did for the story. But once Francis's tale comes to an end, it made much more sense to me: the fact that he's a patient in the insane asylum and that his tale is an alternate reality he created explains the setting's fake appearance. It doesn't look real because it isn't real.
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" was different from the normal standards in many ways. The shapes of the buildings and the angle they are leaning is especially noteworthy. The entire movie revolved around triangular shapes and leaning lines. McCloud would say these shapes are trying to express something "dynamic and changing". We do see something dynamic in the hypnotic control of the somnombulist and we also see something changing which is the world itself. The world which we perceive to be the real one is shown at the end to be that of a lunatic's and we change our perception of their real world to the reality after we find out the truth.
"Dr. Caligari" depicts shapes and lines in an extremely interesting way. The leaning of the building and the specific angles that are used throughout the movie definitely caught my attention. If McCloud were to interpret "Dr. Caligari" he would make inferences to expressionism where the shapes show altering shapes and images throughout the movie. The movie portrays the true meaning of the differences between words and images because the image expresses emotions while the dialoge gives further explanation.