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The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari In Relation To German

1849 words - 7 pages

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' in relation to German Expressionist film. Robert Weine's 1919 film, 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari', is recognised to be a staple and seminal example of the sorts of characteristics found in German Expressionist cinema of this period.Although the film was made near the end of what is often referred to as 'The Expressionist Decade' (1910 - 1920), it is also considered to be the film that first applied an expressionist style to German cinema, and later went on to influence films such as Metropolis, M, and Kameradshaft. the film's lasting ability to interest contemporary viewers makes it easy to understand the film's wide influence, extending beyond Expressionism directly to the horror genre, and to other films depicting a darker side of the psyche. Firstly, it would be helpful if what is exactly meant by the word 'expressionism' is clarified. Expressionism is an avant-garde movement and like other artistic 'isms' such as Dadaism and Cubism, Expressionism is another strain of Modernism. The idea of Expressionism first came to light in painting, it's style most obviously being perveyed by artists such as Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, and Max Weber. It also became influential within theatre and architecture, and later penetrated German literature through poets such as Wassily Kandinsky and George Grosz. Essentially, expressionism is a term that is used to describe works of art and literature that distort or allow for artistic manipulation, for the sake of helping to convey an 'inner vision' of somesort. Rather than attempting to recreate and imitate reality as it is usually percieved, reality is transformed, and in many ways magnified, through Expressionism. It stands almost in opposition to trends such as Impressionism and Naturalism because these two particular styles aim to capture momentary impressions of the physical world, or record "life as it is", respectively. In the context of German film, Expressionism has certain characteristics that are usually commonly associated with it such as 'chiaroscuro' (stark dark/light juxtaposition), emphasised angularity, stylised and highly gesticulatory performances, and a leaning towards abstraction and essentialization. '...Caligari' embraces most of these, as does the dream-like atmosphere that is evoked within most other German Expressionist films. Although having said that, Expressionism is not something that can have its 'definites' easily pinned down; "...wrote one of its activists, Herwald Walden, the founder of the Sturm gallery and the review of the same name, 'is neither a style nor a movement; it is a Weltanschauung'" (Robinson, D. 1997). Which means 'perception of the world'. It has already been established that 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' is one of the best examples of this particular style of cinema, so in which ways is it typically generic of the Expressionist field? The reasoning behind its Expressionist tendencies can be...

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