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Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Finally had the pleasure to watch the Cabinet of Dr Caligari this week - I knew LoveFilm would come in useful at some point. It relates to my animation because it is a silent film and the score really reflects the atmosphere of the narrative. The film goes through various colour tints, denoting time of day and location. I really like the use of vignettes to 'pan in' to subjects, although this was out of necessity. Light and dark are exploited, particularly in the facial expressions of Doctor Caligari and Cesare.

My favourite thing about the film though, has to be the beautiful sets, thanks to the German expressionist movement. As they are entirely fabricated the director had full control over the composition of each shot, and many scenes employ white painted shapes to give a sense of movement and space. They are abstract and get gradually more surreal as the plot progresses in its bizarre way. Each scene could be a painting and they really appeal to me, but I'm not sure their dark quality [the sort of thing I'm usually drawn to] would suit my narrative.

Of the scenes, I particularly like the staircase and prison cell [with the cross painted on the floor], and also the mountains.  The pace of the film felt quite slow, but if the scenes were cut short I imagine much of the 'suspense' would have been lost. I guess I should to mention my enjoyment of the "Du musst Caligari werden" sequence, where the obsessive thoughts of the doctor are visualised in the space. I wonder if there is a place for text within my animation?

The DVD has an audio essay which I haven't had chance to watch yet, I hope I'll have chance before I return it. And now for the good stuff, a selection of stills:



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