УДК 791.2 + 008
ББК 85.374(3) + 71.04
EKATERINA V. SALNIKOVA
The State Institute for Art Studies,
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8386-9251
THE SPACE OF THE CITY AND STORYTELLING IN DAS CABINET DES DR. CALIGARI
Abstract. The film Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene (1920) is analyzed in the article in detail. The author examines the spatial model, the relationships between the characters and the ambiguity of the narrative structure. It is noted that the expressionist decoration of urban space is combined with the traditional entourage of private interiors, which are associated with the traditions of Biedermeier, as well as with the old-fashioned clothing of the characters. In this context, the design of Jane’s room, similar to the bedroom of a fairy princess, stands out. Fairy-tale motives are also revered in the episode of the girl’s abduction by the monster, the somnambulist Cesare. While the exteriors of the main part of the city lack a certain texture, the space of the fair has it, and it is dominated by soft fabrics and wooden bases. In comparison with the houses and pavements of the city, the fair seems more real, tangible, as if it is in the register of non-style, more lifelike art. Expressionism to a certain extent is always the embodiment of the inner state of individuals, their mental disharmony. Therefore, the expressionistic broken, angular outlines of the city create a sense of a frozen or convulsed “spiritual interior”, inner world of a human, which at the subconscious level is perceived in contrast to the physical interior of living organisms, devoid of rigid geometricism. In the film, the “frame story” and the “inner plot” coexist. According to the frame story, Dr. Caligari is the attending physician in a psychiatric clinic, and most of the other characters are his patients. According to the inner plot of Francis, a series of violent murders takes place in the city. It turns out that they are inspired by Caligari, who simultaneously lives in two guises—as a fairground charlatan-magician and as a psychiatrist, testing the possibilities of influencing a somnambulist. Thus, the two lines of the whole plot contradict each other. The director does not give direct hints about which story is trustworthy. According to the author, this is because the director’s subconscious goal is to demonstrate to the audience the principles of perception of different narratives and the regularity of our rejection of the version according to which Caligari is an ordinary respectable doctor. Caligari can be interpreted as an expression of the recipient’s distrust towards any positive images of power and scientific influence on the individual. Robert Wiene’s film makes us offset the perception of modernism in art, which is traditionally considered in the paradigm of rational creativity, and see the possibilities of a symbiosis of art as a cognitive activity and as spontaneous, unconscious creativity.
Keywords: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, silent cinema, expressionism, fairy tale, magic, medium, madness, narrative, frame story, inner story, author