Elements of mise en scène: Production Design

Dr. Caligari

The director Robert Wiene used set design to portray the mental state of his main character in the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

The film portrayed the angst of the German nation, defeated in World War I. It’s distorted lines disturb normal space. The characters wear heavy makeup, especially the main character in the asylum, where he is under the spell of the mad doctor.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari influences horror films to the present day. German Expressionism, also including movies such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and M, also set the stage for film noir after World War II.

German Expressionism ended with the rise of the Nazis, who suppressed it.

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