The German Expressionist, Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari Essay

The German Expressionist, Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari Essay

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When a person feels sad, they sit by a rainy windowsill, bathe in despondency, and belt along to Celine Dion’s 1996 hit, “All By Myself”; when they turn terrified by the circumstances surrounding them in the post-WWi era, wrought with unemployment and economic ruin, they invent art-house, pastiche horrors that influences large-scale branches of cinema. In Robert Wiene’s ground-breaking German Expressionist, Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari) (1922), and F.W. Murnau’s Expressionistic-Kammerspielfilm, Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) (1924), a range of audience-broadening experiments are taken within silent film; rooted in the up rise of German expressionism, socio-political horrors of post-war Germany are exploited in these films as ‘art’ merges into naturalistic cinema, which can be seen through structural framing devices, mise-en-scène and then-‘experimental’ camera techniques.
Expressionism is the visual hyperbole—eliciting emotions through gross exaggeration. The German Expressionism movement started in the early twentieth century art world, pre-WWI, presumably from Vincent Van Gogh’s “pioneering expressionist paintings like… Starry, Starry Night”(Encyclopaedia of Art History). It was a purely aesthetic movement at this time that sought to oppose the Impressionist movement, which imitated nature, by imposing unnatural, distorted images. Aspects of those distortions served to convey the emotions an artist held towards their subject. War brought terror. War brought mental meltdowns. War changed the Expressionistic style into a “bitter protest movement”(Encyclopaedia of Art History) as artists “suffered from war-induced disillusionment and were dissatisfied with post-war German society”(Robinson,11).

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...y. The Last Laugh mixed Expressionist techniques with a realism, i.e. Janning’s increasingly contorted acting, that drew out the downfall of a demoted doorman, stemming from a fear of unemployment that brewed in post-war societies; the framing techniques, low usage of inter-titles, and sardonic and mysterious endings all contribute to the merging of these films from the = Expressionist art movement, to a cinematic movement of its own. Mirroring the horrors world citizens felt in everyday life, these films introduced experimental techniques into cinema, which has let German Expressionism influence remain prevalent in the 1940-50s Film Noir, and the modern Horror genre.
As the credits draw to a close on these Expressionistic films and the viewer is left with questions to the nature of endings and distorted figures, one could say
The Last Laugh stays with their makers .

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