First influence map, for the seaside scene
Friday, 29 October 2010
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
The most striking thing in this german silent expressionist film is the set design, mostly constructed from painted canvas. This helps create an atmosphere of madness and unreality, as the painted sets are full of distorted perspective and lighting. In this world, the actors stand out through looking "realistic", standing vertically in defiance of the skewed verticals of their background. This effect is enhanced by the distorted proportions of the furniture they interact with, such as the town clerk perched on a stool almost as tall as he is, hunched over to fit in the top of the screen.
As Julia Merriam of Classic-Horror.com says, "The image of three-dimensional people walking through this starkly two-dimensional world is disorienting, making the universe within Caligari seem slightly off-kilter", an effect that serves to emphasise the fact that almost all of the film (except for the very beginning and end) is in effect a flashback, a story told by the main protagonist Francis (Friedrich Feher). The fact that the non-flashback scenes are portrayed using realistic sets further serves to separate them from the main body of the film.
It is important to remember that the flashback is told through the eyes of a madman, and this perhaps helps to explain why the director chose to make the stylistic choice he did; the twisted sets help convey to the audience the "otherness" of the reality that Francis is living in. I believe that this effect was best described by the original Variety film review, which said "Robert Wiene has made perfect use of settings designed by Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann and Walter Roehrig, settings that squeeze and turn and adjust the eye and through the eye the mentality." a description that captures the way the film distorts your view of the world within as you watch it.
review for the BBC, who said ""Caligari" creates a charcoal-drawn world...The shadowy symbolism...showing that cinema was well suited to fabulous psychotic dramas. It is such an apt use of the medium as it existed in the first quarter of the 20th century that it is difficult to imagine the film done better with the benefit of sound, colour, or any innovation since."
Monday, 25 October 2010
having taken a quick read through my extracts, I hit my favourite site for random images for some inspiration and came up with these
For the descent down the volcano:
|(image credit: Michael Nichols, National Geographic)|
|(images credit: Jason Gulley)|
For the Mushroom Jungle:
|(image credit: Jan Vandorpe)|
|(image credit: Jan Vandorpe)|
|(images via 1, 2)|
|(image credit: TAND)|
For the underground sea (or more specifically the underground thunderstorm):
|((U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd))|
|(image courtesy: Roger Taylor)|
|Picture taken by Rob Dekker, courtesy: Madeira)|
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
|Image copyright Warner Bros. Pictures|
On the surface, this appears to be a set up for a retelling of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, updated to reflect modern fears about genetic engineering, and at first it seems that this might be where the film is heading, especially when the result of said genetic meddling is possessed of a particularly toxic sting in the tail, and a highly violent nature.
However, the film quickly adopts a more psychological tone, as the creature quickly grows into something that the New York Times film reviewer Manohla Dargis described as "...a creature that, with her tail, skinned-chicken legs and cleft head alternately looks as harmless as a bunny and like something that might leap out from Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (or, scarier yet, a David Lynch film). " We watch the tension that looking after this dangerous secret places on the relationship between Clive and Elsa, the former still believing that it was a mistake to let the creature live, the latter treating it like a pet at first, then almost a child. Her affection for the creature that she has named "Dren" is almost reminicent of the mothers in "the Midwich Cuckoos", and is equally as unsettling.
The action shifts from the lab to the old farm that Elsa grew up on, which provides the scriptwriter plenty of opportunities to hint at the traumatic past she endured, and the neuroses that this has bred. At the same time, Dren has matured to an eerily beautiful adolescence, trapped in the old barn that has been adapted to serve as her home. At the same time, the relationships between Elsa, Clive and Dren shift, revealing, as Time Out reviewer Nigel Floyd says, "the arrogant human scientists revealed as monsters, even as the ‘monstrous’ Dren reveals her complex, vulnerable humanity". This is helped by the fact that Dren is restricted to a (non the less expressive) limited collection of chirps and clicks, or spelling out words using scrabble tiles when she wants to communicate.
|Image copyright Warner Bros. Films|
Overall, I think that SFX film reviewer Dave Golder put it best when he said "The film spends three quarters of its running time desperately – and largely successfully – fighting against being the kind of film you expect it to be, before becoming exactly the kind of film you expect it to be…"