Arch 443/646: Architecture and Film
Winter 2014

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, Man With A Movie Camera, Un Chien Andalou, Avant Garde Shorts

man with the movie camera

Discussion Questions:

Please answer the questions below. Use paragraph form. Undergrad answers should be around 400 words. Grad answers should be around 600 words and also include references indicating some research.

Responses are to be submitted to the proper folder in our LEARN Dropboxes. I will be posting these each week after the class. You should be prepared to deliver your answer in class -- but paraphrase, do not read it.

In this first set of questions we are going to explore the general interpretation of the course theme of "icons + f/x" as we see it expressed in the films.

Log-in to LEARN: here

updated 16-Apr-2014 11:57 AM


1. Kim Adamek

Question: What do you think are the primary elements that make a film "iconic". Refer only to Metropolis when framing your answer.




2. Hillary Chang

Question: What do you think are the primary elements that make a film "iconic". Refer only to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari when framing your answer.

Answer: Based on "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari", I think the primary elements that make a film iconic are the use of art and set direction as well as how the film was edited and the use of scene transitions.

"The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" was iconic for its distinct sets and costumes. Through the film's consistent use of hand-painted background sets, it created a surreal world that distorted the film's sense of reality and space. Similarly, the costumes enhance the sensation created by the set by placing the characters naturally into their given setting. These are techniques make films iconic; they make all films distinct from one another, and through subtle changes can create entirely different worlds and cultures with many distinct and symbolic elements that make the films iconic.

The way that "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" was edited was also a feature that made the film iconic. By using the 'aperture' type transitions, the film was able to transition between locations and time periods. This film also colour graded the black and white film to help differentiate between the present and the narrator's story. These techniques helped by making it easier for viewers to follow the progression of the narrative; one was able to understand how one event linked to another, as well as how characters affected each other at different times. These features were iconic due to the time at which the movie was produced; due to the technology available, watching the film in present day makes these features stand out as iconic.



3. Yiu Hei Cheung

Question: What do you think are the primary elements that make a film "iconic". Refer only to Man With A Movie Camera when framing your answer.

Answer: In my opinion, an iconic film requires stills or clips that linger in the viewer's mind long after the film is over.  These scenes or stills might linger for a multitude of reasons, anything from mystery and ambiguity, to great story-telling, to aesthetics.  Man with a Movie Camera was a film composed of iconic scenes.  Every scene depicted either something pleasant in Russia, something aesthetically pleasing or wonderful to view (the close-ups of machines and cameras), or surreal clips that were fabricated in editing.  These scenes were memorable because they invoked a sense of fascination in the viewer, whether it be through glimpses into an idealistic and somewhat hedonistic Russia, mesmerizing shots of machinery, or the use of groundbreaking special effects.  These scenes turn the film into an icon because they can be remembered throughout time, defining their era of film.



4. Wesley Chu

Question: Why are machines personified as evil in Lang's Metropolis. How does this compare with the image of machines in Man With a Movie Camera and several of the Avant Garde Shorts?

Answer: I do not actually believe that machines are personified as autonomously evil in Metropolis, given the universe depicted in the film. I believe that it is only the human characters that have made them as such, and dictate the roles they play.

The vast cityscapes of the upper city (composed from impressive matte set paintings and painstakingly done scale model animation) give a vague sense of how much the affluent citizens of Metropolis rely on technology to sustain their way of life. Had the rich not desired such a lavish and excessive lifestyle, the necessity for such heavy labour would be negated completely, and perhaps allow workers to work shorter shifts in order to keep the city operating under less strenuous demands. So who was the one to decide at what standard the citizens shall live in? What caused the disparity between the rich and the poor? This backstory is never answered by the film, instead only a preset condition is given. The underground’s residents (working class) spend brutal shifts servicing the machines, which in turn service the wealthy. The machines and technology are only the middle men in the cycle, being creations of man itself.

Even the robotic recreation of Hel personifies this idea. Hel drives the minds of the upper class crazy, while corrupting the minds of the working class to act irrationally on their anger. This might be seen as the personification of evil, especially when juxtaposed with the real Maria, a human being who preaches peace and understanding through love. However, one must not forget that Rotwang the inventor created Hel at the will of Fredersen (who are both human), and gave it the ability to have power over other people, particularly men. He could have just as easily “programmed” Hel to act in a positive manner, but instead he created a monster that would cause a rift in Metropolis to destroy itself.

Eventually in the film, the working class attempts to destroy the machinery sustaining Metropolis, only to realize that they are actually putting their own families in danger. This is in no way caused by the machines, but only by the irrational rage and suppressed desire for revolution, which are purely human emotions. Humans create technology to be slaves for themselves, but in turn become slaves to technology.

A Man with a Movie Camera reflects this relationship with a number of scenes, showing the daily use of technology in people’s lives for work and leisure. However this depiction is much more of a celebration of how far humans have pushed the technological frontier so far in every regard, from weapons to industry to pleasure. Anything humans desire, they find a way to make it easier to accomplish. Some shots in the film are extreme close-ups of intricate machinery, finely crafted pieces of art composed of pistons, gears, bearings, axels, etc. that work together to perform a task. It forces one to think about all the available technology there is today, and the machinery and technology that had to be developed in order to create it. Even something as simple or taken for granted as a sheet of paper can be seen as a technological marvel when given what the world started with. A tree, grown naturally in the wild, is turned into a razor thin film of fibre that is consistent in texture, thickness, size, and colour, across every single piece, multiplied in billions. How many inventions, discoveries did that take to accomplish? How much human ingenuity and intelligence? This is thousands of years of knowledge in application, and it is only a sheet of paper. There are literally millions of other things in the world that exist in our everyday lives now, and even back in 1920’s Soviet society that took an incomprehensible amount of effort and time to develop. The film treats machinery and technology as a testament to human greatness. And it is all based on our desire to solve a problem presented to us in nature, and make it more efficient. Efficiency is essentially Laziness in a practical form, resulting in convenience. It is solely this motive that drives the incentive for us to develop new technologies. Even some everyday occurrences can puzzle one when objectively thinking about it. For example, at one point in the film, a machine clamped to a table is shown being used by placing sealed beer bottles underneath it, with the machine removing the caps quickly and efficiently. So basically, this society has invented a machine to create another invention, bottles with sealed caps, which in turn require machines to remove the caps. This seems extremely counter-intuitive and overly complicated, yet we have made it as such.

Saying machines are evil is akin to saying money is the root of all evil. Humans created both, humans dictate how both are used. If one is to be corrupted and use money or technology and machines in an “evil” way, that is human nature at work, and nothing else.



5. Mu Chuan Gao

Question: How does the musical soundtrack in Caligari (abeit quiet behind the narration), Man with a Movie Camera and Metropolis, affect the general feeling of the plot or story (taking into account that these are otherwise, silent films)?




6. Maighdlyn Hadley

Question: Caligari, Man With A Movie Camera, Un Chien Andalou and Metropolis all place women in differing social roles in the film. How does this feed (or not) into a contemporary interpretation or appreciation of the films? ie. can the "use" of people be deemed a variety of f/x?

Answer: In The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, the role of women (fulfilled by Jane, Francis’ fiancée) is that of a one-dimensional pawn – a possession that one man could steal from another, completely defenseless. Jane is a symbol of innocence and madness.

In Un Chien Andalou, the woman is emotional (sometimes hysterical), yet feisty and willing to defend herself against unwanted advances. She is an object of lust and madness for the young man, who is so overwhelmed with desire that his eyes roll back when he touches her. The audience alternately sees him grabbing at her clothed chest and a disembodied female behind.

The female character in Metropolis represents a dichotomy in the perceived social role of women in society – as both the savior and demise of man. Maria is shown as a kind, pure woman, who works with children and inspires downtrodden men of the blue-collar underworld. However, when a mad scientist copies her likeness, alternate-Maria is a seductive, evil figure who exploitatively drives men to madness with her sexuality.

In Man With a Movie Camera, there are many portrayals of women – the cameraman focuses on one woman’s forehead, collarbone, teeth, and legs while dressing, but not in a sensual or voyeuristic way. It’s more of a display of routine than fetish. Women are shown working, riding in carriages, getting married and divorced, giving birth, working in factories and as operators, grooming and sunbathing, exercising, and swimming. Footage of women exercising is cut in a way as to appear slightly erotic and slightly silly, with actions sped up or focus put on the view down a woman’s shirt. However, the footage of woman doing sports is empowering and celebratory of the power of the human body.

Whereas Caligari, Metropolis and Andalou are filmed from an evidently masculine perspective, Man With a Movie Camera is from a seemingly androgynous viewpoint, or at least alternating between a male and female perspective. This affects the reading of the film from a contemporary viewpoint, in that women are seen as valuable members in society and manufacturing, rather than a weak link or a cause of man’s demise. The female film editor is perhaps the best embodiment of the female that Dziga Vertov wishes to portray – a behind-the-scenes worker who is essential in stitching together the stories of everyday life.

While I’m not sure that the use of people would be considered a “special effect”, it certainly determines the tone and reading of a film.




7. Dan Kwak

Question: Compare the nature of the titling and intertitling in Caligari, Man With a Movie, Metropolis and the short films as to their respective relationships and impact on the telling of the stories in the films.

Answer: Intertitles in movies serve several purposes to ease the deliverance of the narrative. Intertitles connect pieces of varying narratives; they weave together different narratives to smoothly carry the audience from one setting to another without disrupting the flow of the narrative. In Caligari, for example, intertitles were inserted as a natural transition from Francis’ flashback to his story and eventually to the reality. This technique is also evident in Metropolis where, for instance, the setting switches from Eternal Garden to the Workers City. In this way, the radical contrast between the garden and the city is finely interlocked on que without a sudden change in the scene. Frequently, intertitles introduce new settings and places plainly to prevent any confusion from such switching. For example, the intertitle can be as plain as “Workers City” for the switch from a place to the city. Furthermore, intertitles are also primary means of delivering messages, which characters cannot express without sound. They are captions of the characters’ thoughts and words to portray the mood, their feelings or their perception towards the specific situation. Often in Metropolis, Freder’s thoughts or speech are expressed, which informs the audience of his awareness and his emotions. In the scene where he is shocked to find the machine room, the audience can already grasp the desperation and the shock in Freder’s face. However, this sensation is double-amplified by the abrupt black screen with white words: “I must tell my father!” The intertitle emboldens the message of his alarming awareness. Another example is often when Freder searches for Maria and screams her name. The audience can clearly read his mouthing of Maria; however, his desperation is again repeated in a simple intertitle, “Maria!!” Such technique is also frequently seen in Caligari and often with exclamations in order to express the tension in the narratives. Likewise, intertitles also serve as means of delivering a dialogue between characters, which the filmmaker find imperative for the audience to understand. These dialogues are often the precursor to the rising action or such, where further explanation is required of the situation. In Caligari, for example, Francis’ conversation with his friend, Alan, reveals his character as well as introducing Jane even before Jane appears on the scene for the first time. This light conversation leads a precursor to Alan’s death and Jane’s role in the narrative. It also tells the friendship between the two. Intangible elements such as friendship, therefore, can be simply stated from a conversation or a statement through an intertitle. Another example is when Dr. Caligari attracts people and describes about Cesare. His description about a somnambulist is necessary information for the audience to catch. Without this descriptive intertitle, the audience would be left on wondering whether Cesare is dead or asleep in the coffin. Intertitles as a method of delivering statements is also seen in Man with a Movie Camera, where the intention of the filmmaker is made absolutely clear to the audience in the beginning of the movie. Such need for clarity of a message can be easily expressed by an intertitle. Intertitles are also helpful for translating the general mood or the atmosphere of a situation through its decoration or artistic expression. In Caligari, for example, the font is a blood-like inscription as typical of any horror movie. Therefore, intertitles serve for many purposes in order to translate the overall narrative to the audience as fluently as possible. They also deliver certain, necessary parts of the narratives where the lack of sound is fulfilled.



8. Karan Manchada

Question: Compare the nature of the scale models and sets in Caligari, and Metropolis. How did this affect the believability of the larger urban spaces?




9. Milos Mladenovic

Question: Compare the nature of the political statements being made by Caligari, Metropolis and Man With A Movie Camera as they are supported by the films. Refer to any aspect of filmmaking in each of the three films that you think is being used in a purposeful way to promote the politics of the film.

Answer: Caligari, Metropolis and Man With A Movie Camera all have an undeniably political side to them. Each film is a response to the zeitgeist, which around the 1920s and '30s was dominated by two interconnected things: political instability as caused by a rise in the values of the working class, and an increasingly modern world in terms of industrialization and then proliferation of technology. The political statements in Metropolis are perhaps the most direct. The literal divide between the working class, housed below in the underground city, and the upper class is introduced right at the beginning of the film and the subsequent uprising of the former is a clear sign of the motifs of the film.

Three symbols in the film reveal primarily Fritz Lang's intentions: the sculpture located in the central square of the underground city was easily inspired by Walter Gropies' 'Monument for the March Dead in Weimar,' a concrete public structure designed between 1920-1922 of similar appearance. Gropius' is a memorial monument to the workers killed in resisting the Kapp Putsch, a coup attempt in 1920 that attempted to overthrow the Weimar Republic and undo the results of the German Revolution that ended the year before. Similarly, the hands are a symbol used to represent the individual and communal struggle. Their repeated use, for example in the hands of the workers of Babel reaching out in order to tear it down and bring about an end to their suffering, the hands reaching towards the robot Maria in the Yoshiwara nightclub, and the hands of the young children of the underground city reaching towards Maria and Freda on the gong monument, represents a seeking of salvation and the misery of a lower class' existence. Hel is also an important political symbol, being the ancient goddess of the dead and ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology, who the Vikings regarded with horror but the common people worshipped. The robot Maria's fate, burning at the stake, reveals the fear of a modern industrialized society in regards to the rapid acceleration of technology. Here is the image of a Marxist society threatened by anarchy in the coupling of technology and human desires.

Caligari similarly represents the period of Germany's Weimar Republic where the German people were experiencing a torrent of new political views. Released in 1919, one year prior to Metropolis, it also takes its cues from what is happening around it at the time. What was once normal gives way to the new and unusual: the labyrinthine townscape, the slew of sharp contrasts and lines of the cinematography, and the physical and mental unrest of the townspeople reflect the political condition of unrest at the time for the German people. Even the fact that Caligari is filmed largely indoors on a stage represents a valuing of the individual, the working class in the face of increasing modernity that was overtaking Germany in terms of urbanization, artificiality, and an introduction of the foreign and unusual.

Man With A Movie Camera (1929) possesses a similar political theme, however here it is uniquely optimistic. It shows a Proletariat society in which masses of people are enjoying and partaking in the same action. The aesthetic portrayal of industrialization and the achievements of workers through hard labour (i.e. the numerous close ups of machinery and the shots of a typewriter borrowed from Walter Ruttmann's Berlin: A Symphony of a Great City, 1927) are propaganda for a futuristic city with a sense of awe and delight for the association of man and machine. Just like the prior two films, it reacts to the political conditions of the time which were largely Marxist ideals of the individual, the working class in the face of their miserable existence onset by a modern world of machines and technology.


"Kapp Putsch." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 May 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
"Man with a Movie Camera.", n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
"Man with a Movie Camera." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.
"Metropolis (1927)." University of Michigan. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
"Metropolis." University of Wollongong. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
"Weimar Sensibility in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’s Mise-en-scene." Studies in Cinema, Jeremy Carr, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.


10. Arturo Enrique Morales Rivera

Question: Compare the nature and impact of the cinematic storytelling methods used in Caligari, Metropolis and Man With a Movie Camera.



  11. Morgan O'Reilly

Question: Compare the use of "special effects" in Caligari, Metropolis and Man with a Movie Camera. How do these alter the ability to focus the viewer on aspects of each film?

Answer: ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ (1920), ‘Metropolis’ (1927) and ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (1929) include a spectrum of revolutionary special effects. While the techniques differ in each film, they share the intention of responding to the social and political context in which the films were made. In ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,’ the objective was to create a fictional world that materialized emotional turmoil, in ‘Metropolis’ special effects were used to create the illusion of a monstrous futuristic city, and in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ many cinematic techniques were implemented to convey the fast pace and intensity of industrialization.

Rather than using technology to trick the eye of the viewer, ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’s’ highly stylized German Expressionist mise-en-scene is used effectively to simulate a nightmarish imaginary world. Contorted and imposing spaces were constructed at full scale to act as the backdrop of the film, from the interior rooms of the asylum to the exterior streetscapes. This dramatic approach continues with the high contrast lighting and coloration of the film as well as the exaggerated costumes, makeup and the theatrical acting style. The only in-camera effect that is used to further this aesthetic of insanity is the ‘Dutch Angle’, a technique first used in this film whereby the camera is rotated in relation to the scene1. Between the sets and the shots, rarely is a ninety degree angle seen in the film. In concert these techniques were able to externalize the inner world of a tormented psyche, which in a twist at the end of the film is revealed to be that of the character Francis. Within the greater context however, this tormented world can be understood to reflect the social anxiety prevalent in a suffering country following the unthinkable horrors of the First World War2.

In Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, this background of social agitation continued to prevail. In response, the film uses revolutionary special effects to create a vast futuristic city stemming from harsh inequality. Illusion plays a much more significant role in these special effects, which had never been seen before. As in ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, full scale elaborate sets were constructed, however models, miniature sets and in-camera effects combine to portray the city at a much grander scale than could realistically have been constructed at full scale. Of particular note is the use of the Schufftan Process, an optical trick that uses mirrors to make it look as though the actors inhabit the miniature models of the city3. The depth and vastness achieved through the use of these effects were extremely important to the creation of the huge and threatening city which clearly embodies feelings of unease about the ruling power and the country’s future4.

In contrast to the immense constructions created for ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ and ‘Metropolis’, ‘A Man with A Movie Camera’ utilizes real Soviet cities as the setting and characters. While, some scenes in the film were staged, for the most part the film consists of a montage of real scenes occurring in Moscow, Odessa and Kiev. The events are organized according to a 24 hour day, which is the only over-arching narrative in the film. Various cinematic techniques, many of which were considered experimental, were utilized in the film including double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, reverse motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, close-ups and tracking shots5. The application of these cinematic techniques to this footage combined with the fast paced editing of the film evokes the hustle and bustle of industrialization and the vigor of day to day labour required of Soviet citizens6. The film could even be understood to suggest a city of the future. The medium itself is used to further convey this message as the viewer is exposed to the endless capabilities of the modern technology as well as its ability to go anywhere and film anything.

‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,’ ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ responded to the context within which they were made. Special effects were used with the purpose of strengthening their message, drawing the focus of the viewer and in doing so, providing some satisfaction by giving voice to the issues faced by the audience.


1Terry Malloy. What Is A Dutch Angle?.‐is‐a‐dutch‐angle/
2 Schaal, Hans Dieter. “Spaces of the Psyche.” In Architecture and Film, edited by Bob Fear, 12‐15. London, UK: Wiley Academy, 2000.
3 Sara Leedom. The Schufftan Process.‐process.html
4 Weihsmann, Helmut. “The City in Twilight.” In Cinema and Architecture, edited by Francois Penz and Maureen Thomas, 8‐27. London, UK: British Film Institute, 1997.
5 Wikipedia. Man with A Movie Camera.
6 Grant Tracey. Man with a Movie Camera.      



12. Patrick Rossiter

Question: Man with a Movie Camera uses "live sets" and actual urban spaces. How might the use of actual vs. constructed sets have affected Caligari and Metropolis? Do you think the portrayal of the atmosphere would have been more or less successful? Why?

Answer: Man with a Movie Camera presented an alternative film style as it depicted scenes from the everyday. The footage was shot and edited in real life settings and created an understanding of film as a means of documenting the usual rhythms of daily life. The idea of the film as exploratory offers great results to the audience with uninhibited camera work and techniques. It would have served as a great means of cultural exchange to those from outside of Russia, however in modern time it serves as a time capsule to everyone outside of the generation it was filmed during - a sociological glimpse at lives lived in the past in early 20th century Russia. The film offers no story line, no plot, hardly a character but makes up for it providing numerous camera shooting techniques and angles, making the everyday more interesting.

The constructed sets used in Caligari and Metropolis offer a terrific sense of place and setting for all of the scenes. There is no doubt that these films would be far less successful at communicating the essence of their stories without the use of elaborately constructed sets. The artistic imagery of the sets emphasizes the concepts underlying within the stories of the films.

In Caligari, the scenery directs the viewer to feel uneasy and uncertain as to where and why the background imagery appears the way it is. Ninety degree angles are completely lost on the sets, the use of jagged and angular lines dominates the constructed world around them. The use of these lines allows not only for the disjointed appearance of the built environment but creates almost a dizzying effect. The interior walls of spaces are all angled in, making the appearance of a fun house, an environment where normal or assumed rules and behavior in life may not apply. What I found particularly interesting in the use of these jagged and angular lines is that the viewer’s sense of depth is altered completely. When characters move further away from the camera in combination with sets which taper off dramatically towards the horizon line, the mind has no choice but to accept that the characters are covering a greater distance then they actually are. The sets which display this the best are during the search scene where characters walk up and over a hill and where they come across a bridge, closer to the viewer.

Metropolis offers eye-popping scenes of a future dystopia where a mega city is dominated by massive buildings, endless viaducts, cars, planes, and excessive signage flashing on every available surface. The imagery is rich with ideas of what human kind may aspire to build. The above ground scenery displays a cosmopolitan way of life while the working class lives subterranean in a stark and prison like setting. The set design allows the viewer to feel as though this world could potentially exist, the scale is much larger than what we would consider a normal. This allows for a world to be produced that diminishes the role of man, subordinating him to something less. As the story is one of a working class being treated poorly and taken advantage of, this aspect of the diminutive nature of the constructed world plays more strongly in the story. Based on the films lack of financial success, I would assume that the use of elaborate and to scale set building contributed to the bloated budget of the film.

If actual sets were used in Caligari, the story would come across to be much less imaginative and artistic. The atmosphere would reflect reality and less of a tale that may be on the edge of plausibility. The atmosphere generated by the sets used are remarkably fascinating and beautiful, but at the same time unsettling and disturbing to the viewer. If actual sets and locations were used, this effect would be lost and the story would have one less leg to stand on. Regarding Metropolis, the story would be much less effective in describing the “nature of man amongst the madness of the mega city” if the scenes were shot in real locations. The atmosphere would be lost and the film would become a less exciting. In both cases, these films have become truly successful and timeless because of the film producers ability to tell a story and place the viewer in the middle of it by immersing them in artistic, imaginative, and engaging scenes.



13. Adam Schwartzentruber

Question: Whereas Caligari only splits its scenes into interior and exterior space, Metropolis extends this to include above ground and below ground and the use of live sets in Man With a Movie Camera incorporates a full range of space types. How does this affect development of the themes in the film?




14. Simone Tchonova

Question: Comment on the use of face make-up in Caligari, Metropolis and Man With a Movie Camera in enhancing the plot of the film. Talk about the historic use of make-up in theatre that this references.

Answer: All three films, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis and Man With a Movie Camera, are silent films. They were made in the years 1920, 1927 and 1929 respectively. It is difficult to clearly represent a full story in the absence of sound. The directors and artists involved in creating these films were pushed to think outside of the box to represent their films’ ideas and concepts to the best of their abilities.

Let’s start with Caligari and the use of expressively painted landscapes and how these landscapes translate onto the painted faces of the characters. One character who’s makeup stands out is Cesare. Cesare is Dr. Caligari’s human toy that he has manipulated into acting out of order even through a sleeping state. Cesare has very dark, rigid shapes surrounding his eyes which contrast to his stark white face. The lips are also emphasized as dark and protruding with the use of dark lipstick. The eyes are one of the most expressive parts of the human face and can even tell a story themselves. It was important to contrast Cesare’s eyes to the rest of the characters’ because he is perceived as a deliriously controlled man.The chiaroscuro usage of makeup defines the idea of the protagonists own psycho destruction by adding to the delirium like images of the movie. Another important character whose face gets filled with the chiaroscuro effect is Jane when she first sees Dr. Caligari’s evil creation. The change in her dark eyes adds to her fright and disgust of what is before her eyes.

Seven years after the making of Caligari, Metropolis was created by yet another German director by the name of Fritz Lang. Again the same method of makeup artistry is used here as in Caligari. This method of a strong chiaroscuro may even have been influenced by its precursor film. Take a look at the difference between Maria and the fake, robotic maria - the latter has stronger, darker eye makeup and darker lips. This emphasizes the delusion within the woman/robot as she leads the workers through the underground city to destroy the machines. As the frenzy of destruction progresses, Maria’s eye makeup becomes darker and sloppier around her eyes. Another use of chiaroscuro is in Fredersen’s eyebrows - they are defined with dark makeup and trimmed to look robust and linear. The eyebrows reinforce Fredersen’s strict and unforgiving personality. Most interesting about the usage of Makeup in Metropolis is the prosthetic “makeup” of Hel, it really emphasizes Hel being artificial against the pure skin of the human characters.

Both of the above films have been influenced by the theatrical makeup of mimes, who also have to tell stories in the absence of sound.

The third film, Man with a Movie Camera, is a Russian film based on the concept of “cine-eye” movie making. Director, Vertov, was extremely fascinated by this method of filmmaking that allows a film to portray a certain reality through capturing moments as if seen through the human eye, as opposed to the film being a representation of a reality. The makeup of all the characters is natural and minimal, the minimal effect emphasizes the daily and ordinary life of the people being filmed. It adds to the concept of creating a “cine-eye” movie by detracting a theatrical essence of the movie making industry.


15. Yiming Wang

Question: Compare the use of light/darkness and use of "shadows" in Caligari and 1927 Metropolis in creating a more fearful environment.




16. Victor Zagabe

Question: How is differentiated architectural style used to represent varying levels of authority or power in both versions of Metropolis? Is this also a factor in Caligari and Man With A Movie Camera?

Answer: In both versions of metropolis, the architectural style has always been to emphasize the monumentality of the built environment of the metropolis, while doing the inverse for the working city. When one looks at the epicentre of the metropolis, one is greeted to this idea of a city that it systematically arranged with elevated highways, very clearly systematically delineated streets, and most of all, a towering monument which stands amidst the visual complexity of the city. In short, the money shot showing the central tower clearly shows this a space whose purpose was for practical use and enjoyment, the facilitation of human life. In contrast, when one looks at the representation of the worker's city, one notices the lack of complexity within the city. All buildings, which are very simple and functional in nature, are without ornaments or anything that might possibly drive one to believe that beauty even existed within the city. As one looks at the epicentre of the city, one notices that these buildings organize themselves around a single lever, not a building representing their pride. As such, this focus represents the idea that the heart of working city is not meant for human pleasure, but is mainly just a dwelling with one purpose, to provide a place for one to rest, with an understanding that that work their only purpose.

More evidently, one notices the differences in architectural styles within the lighting used in both the the Metropolis and the worker's city. In short, the metropolis is represent with a greater level of variance in lighting allowing for particularly monumental buildings, or important people to be emphasized. The movie goes as far as to make the central tower in some scenes, appear to fade in to the background as some sort of ethereal monument representing the core ideas of the city. In contrast, there is much less variance shown in the epicentre of the worker's city in terms of lighting, which only emphasizes the uniformity of their surrounding spaces.

This representation of the different levels of authority is also shown in Caligari. This is represented in the way that the architecture seeks to speak to the particular sentiments of the scene, or characters in place. This is shown through the use of lingering shadows, window typologies, or the wall designs of passageways. There is some representation of the level of power one has in this movie, which differs from the Metropolis.

The representation of authoritative power in a man with a movie camera was shown very objectively through the lens of the kino-oki eye. In specific the representation of the integration of technology served as a visual divider to represent those with power and those without. This is exemplary when one looks at people as they come out of machine operated hair salons and contrasts it in the way others struggle in other parts of the movie.



17. Kyle Jensen

Man with A Movie Camera
by Dziga Vertov (1929)

For the making of this movie multiple effects were used to create illusions and emotions of the city and life in general at the time of the film. The following is a list of the effects with a brief description of what they are and where they are used in the film:

stop motion animation- While keeping the camera in a fixed location the subject matter ( in this case his tripod and camera, a second one) was moved very slightly and the motion was captured frame by frame. This motion capture is the same principle as a flip book, and is a very basic but an effective way to make the illusion of objects moving, seemingly on their own.

double exposure- A combination of two film clips being played simultaneously on top of one another. This method of special effect is used in standard photography as well and can create interesting illusions using ghost-like shadows to manipulate the picture. In the film this is seen when Vertov seems to be trapped in a beer glass. The use of scale was employed making him appear small or the glass big.

split screen- combining two film strips together so that there is an artificial horizon that is created through the centre of the screen. This technique is used much the same way as the double exposures in the film in that scale shifts are made possible. Vertov is made to look smaller again as he sets up his tripod, seemingly while standing on another camera.

fast and slow motion- Increasing the real time speed of the motions within a shot. The effect helps to create moods within the subject mater. Examples of slow motion in the film is a clip of a water fountain, as the water is slowly cascading downwards there is a sense of peace and tranquility. Some of the machinery closeups and pedestrian street shots where sped up, making for bustling and quick paced atmosphere.

tracking shots- Panning and zooming the camera so that an object is followed or tracked. In the film he is in a car that is filming another car. Interestingly, in order to get this footage there would need to be another camera filming the actual action of both of the cars.

dutch angles- By tilting the camera, straight lines of geometry become diagonal creating a different overall theatrical effect to the position of the shot. Skews in the angles of some of the machinery filmed intensify geometry of the objects.

jump cuts- Skipping frames to push the action of an event forward. This leads to quick paced film work as things seem to be moving faster than is humanly possible.

fast cutting- Using a series of shots in a short amount of time, thus not giving the audience time to fully comprehend the images and creating a frantic or chaotic pace within the film clip. It was effective in this film to show the fast paced lifestyle that existed in Russia at the time of the movie’s creation.


back to arch and film winter 2014