The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari By Siegfried Kracauer

1557 Words 7 Pages
Germany could not escape authoritarian governance. After World War I (WWI) came to an end and the democratic Weimar Republic replaced the autocratic war regime, Germany finally appeared to be temporarily rid of political violence. However, chaos persisted. The government suppressed public uprisings with brutal violence, killing hundreds. Germany again fell into disorder.
This never-ending governmental oppression is reflected in the 1920 horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The movie depicts a schizophrenic’s hallucination of the serial killing by Dr. Caligari through the hands of a somnambulist, Cesare. As contemporary film critic and citizen of the Weimar Republic, Siegfried Kracauer felt the film reflected the war government, sending
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Highlighting both scriptwriters’ stance as pacifists, he draws a parallel between Dr. Caligari and the war regime. Essentially, he contends that the scriptwriters likely created the characters in opposition to authoritarian forces during WWI. Nevertheless, rather than holding immense authority from the start like the war government, Dr. Caligari hardly possesses any power at the beginning of the film. Merely a somnambulist-master who seeks a spot at the carnival, he arrives in town by climbing a set of staircase. He also leans his entire body on a crutch and walks with a slight limp, as if about to fall. His ascendancy through stairs reveals his low position, and his frailness further highlights his lack of power. Dr. Caligari’s initial impotence contradicts the war regime’s enduring governance since , yet parallels the Weimar Republic’s nonexistence during WWI. Thus, it is more likely that Dr. Caligari in fact serves as a symbol of …show more content…
Caligari and post-war Germany, the film highlights contemporary Germany’s incapability of escaping authoritarian control. In the inner story, Dr. Caligari accumulates immense power, yet is eventually captured and punished for his crimes and sins. Nevertheless, the film quickly twists the ending and reveals that the story is but an absurd imagination of Francis, and enters the outer frame, in which Francis is a psychotic. Even though in the outer story Dr. Caligari seems to lose his ability to kill and thus his tyranny, he still remains the top of the new setting, in another form: head of the mental asylum, with the ability to determine much of the fate of the characters. Essentially, by mocking the downfall of Dr.Caligari in the inner story and introducing him to a new form of power, the twist essentially underscores the inability for Dr.Caligari to be truly rid of power. No matter what sort of influence he possesses, his authority seems inescapable and equally overwhelming in both forms, and becomes circular in nature. As the film itself is a parallel of post-war Germany, this overpowering tyranny within the film reflects the movie’s mockery of contemporary Germany’s inability to rid itself of the reign of authoritarian powers. The changes in the form of governance, or regime, are rendered effortless by the film, as regardless of what government now gains control, Germans are forever bound to

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