Do horror films mirror our society’s fears and social problems? Horror movies gives audiences a jolt of fear as the most frightening scene takes place on screen, but is that scene of horror connected to the horrors of our everyday life. The problems we fear everyday are coming alive on the big screen. Creators of these films are cleverly disguise our society’s fears and anxieties into their films. Throughout the years of film history movie monsters have mirrored our social problems and fears; as our society changes through the years so do the monsters on the big screen.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) was undoubtedly a revolutionary film and paved the way for the beginning of the horror genre. Caligari is a visual masterpiece filled with a stylized cinematography that became a revolutionary leap in cinema as an art form. It’s a film that is inspired by expressionism, which forced conventional visual perspective into emotionally charged configuration (Skal, 40). Although Caligari could have been more revolutionary to Germany by reflecting the social problems in the film; if it wasn’t due to the changes made by the director, Dr. Robert Wiene, to the original script. The original script was written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz, who both shared revolutionary moods and views on their hatred for absolute authority following World War I.
In the original script ending Francis, the protagonist, finds that Caligari is in reality the head of a local asylum, a man so obsessed by an ancient legend of a hypnotist and his murderous sleepwalker that he cannot resist acting out the story himself. Confronted with the corpse of Cesare, Caligair flies into a lunatic rage and placed in a straightjacket. Opposed to the film’s ending that reveals that all of the flashback is actually Francis delusion, symbolized in the film by the distorted buildings and landscapes. Francis, Jane and Cesare are all inmates of the insane asylum, and Dr. Cagliari is the asylum director.
The social problem symbolized in the original script, Caligari stood for the absolute authority of Germany, while Cesare represented the sleepwalking masses who had been sent by the millions to kill and be killed (Skal, 41). Also exposing the madness inherent in authority, but it was transformed by Wiene to a framing story which has Francis as the madman. Film historian, Siegfried Kracauer comments on this change, “A revolutionary film was thus turned into a conformist one- following the much-used patterns of declaring some normal but troublesome individual insane and sending him to a lunatic asylum (Kracauer,67).” The changes made was not to please Weien himself, but to please the masses and give the audience what they desired.
Caligari did however predict or had a premonition of the coming of Hitler. Dr. Cagliari uses hypnotic power to force his will upon his tool, Cesare. A technique that is foreshadowing, manipulation of the soul which Hitler was the first to practice on a...