I’ve recently been on a Tim Burton high— perhaps it’s the Halloween air, or maybe it’s that film, “It’s Your Funeral” that I’ve been working on that’s inspired me. Whatever the reason, Burton has inspired me so much that I’ve decided to blog about the film that inspired him— The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
Considered to be the first, ‘true horror film,” contain the first twist ending in film, and one of the most influential films of the German Expressionist movement, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a truly scary film.
Check it out here:
While many believe that Wiene decided to film against a 2 dimensional set for monetary reasons, (this set was undoubtable cheaper to create than finding realistic locations), others do not. Wiene was, “making a film of delusions and deceptive appearances, about madmen and murder, and his characters exist at right angles to reality. None of them can quite be believed, nor can they believe one another.” By actually painting light and shadows on the walls, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” takes on a look that isn’t quite right. He puts the viewer in reality limbo.
At first I had a hard time believing that a horror film could be more horrible if it was set somewhere unrealistic. However, “Calgari” takes place in a subjective psychological fantasy— an alternate universe where unspeakable horror suddenly becomes very possible. This world disables the viewer’s ability to rationalize. Any thoughts like “that would never happen, or, the cops will catch that guy soon,” lose all validity. We have no business being in this world at all. Everything we know is meaningless. Now THAT’S scary.