am i the only person interested in the title cards in weimann’s the cabinet of dr caligari?
let me start again
i finally watched the cabinet of dr caligari. it’s fantastic. let’s start with the sets: the sets are incredible — dark, menacing, crowded. it’s kind of like the opposite of those habitat preference tests. you know, we evolved in savannas so we naturally prefer those types of habitats for their features — some covering (as a protection from the elements and predators) looking over large open spaces (which is beneficial for hunting or something). in other words, the sets are biologically scary (if i can misappropriate a misunderstanding of a dated evolutionary theory).
i mean these sets are threatening. they seem to be actually engulfing the characters in the movie. in this way, the characters are all like the somnambulist — controlled by outside forces they may not even be consciously aware of. what’s more interesting is how those same jagged, aggressive lines are reproduced in the title card. i couldn’t find any images off the cards on line (which speaks to my initial question at the beginning of this post), but you can imagine: like those same same invasive branches show up as drawings behind the written text on the cards (ps, this is a silent film).
and the written word doesn’t end with the title cards. dr caligari controls the somnambulist by refering to an older manuscript. one that is shown at length on the screen. visuals of written words permeate the entire film.
but with silent films, words in the films must be represented visually. but more importantly, the filmed words are as much a part of the film (the visual film) as any other scene or shot. what fascinates me about dr caligari is the way those words are used stylistically — the title cards are used to reinforce and reproduce the eerie imagery of the rest of the film.
then the silent era ended and text in film was banished to the opening and closing credits, the occasional close up of a letter (usually with some corresponding audio that actually reads the letter) and that one part in the red shoes where they’re waiting for the ballet to begin and “45 minutes later” scrolls across the bottom of the screen.
then came godard.
(i’m sure tons of other directors prominently use text in their films, but none as much and with such force as godard.)