Books and Movies Reviews

The Mise-en-scene of Dr. Caligari

The film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a film that went against all film form previous to its release.It was released during the German Expressionist period in history, which had its heyday after World War I.During this period, Germans were interested in art, such as fictional stories, theatre, painting, and films.They felt that these different aspects of the arts should show the psychological thoughts and feelings of the main character.Many times these films would be very dark in their scenery and the way the shots were filmed in general.The mise-en-scene was very important in these Expressionistic films.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the story of a doctor, who, not until the end of the film, do we find out his true profession.He works in an insane asylum and the story being told is that of the main character, a patient in the hospital.The author's disease keys us into the strange mise-en-scene (all of the backdrops, costumes, lighting, actors in the sequence) of the film.
Lighting was an important part of the mise-en-scene in this particular movie.The cinematographers and set designers decided against using sunlight in the film.Any scenes that could've been filmed outside a studio were shot inside with painted sets.They painted both light and dark shadows on the sets themselves.This gave the illusion of shadows that would normally appear using pure sunlight.These shadows illustrated a type of chiaroscuro, which is painting with light and shadow in art.
Similarly, The term used for the lighting style of this film is low-key lighting.This means that there is a high contrast between objects, buildings, streets, stairs, or people inside the scene, causing us to look at a particular scene or character in the way the director wanted us to.
Also important to the mise-en-scene is the sets themselves.The walls, floors, stairs, and ceilings are shaped and set up in a way that makes ones perc…

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