Pearson BTEC Level 4/5 HNC/D Diploma in Film Analysis


There are various aspects that are required to be performed while analysing a film. It starts from setting up of the scene, then angular break up of the camera, frame, screen timing and ultimately if the essence of the scene has actually been communicated to the audience or not. The present assignment analysis has been performed for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is a horror silent movie of 1920s. The report makes comprehensive discussion regarding camera angle and movement, editing and position of screen. Further, analysis have also been performed choosing one particular scene from the movie.

Details of framing, camera angle and camera movement position, and editing

The cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German horror silent movie of 1920 directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It describes the story of a insane hypnotist who tend to use Somnambulist to murder people. The film is an attempt to practice dark feature film with twisted visual styles, oblique and curving lines, sharp pointed forms, landscapes and structures which tend to twist on unusual angles (Barsam and Monahan, 2015). It also uses various shadows and streaks with light paint to describe the intensity of each scene shoot so that adequate story set up can be communicated to the audience without any type of narration.

The film is the clear presentation of brutal irrational authority of Dr. Caligiri representation of German war government. Research says that the movie was unusual for then films that used to be released at that time. An expressionist visual style has been presented in a well-defined manner. The entire film was shot in a studio without using aby type of location to shoot each and every scene. Hence, an effective use of camera and its angle was initiated for clear representation of the story line, which was not quite common at that time. The cinematography used in shooting the scenes was more of medium shots at straight on angle. However, shot of abrupt close up scenes were used to give a sense of shock to the audience. But majority of the scenes were shot with long panning movement of the individual (Prince, 2015). The scenes are generally without intercutting hence the movie tends to give a feel of theatre cinema rather than a movie. Since, Caligari is a dark and horror movie hence less of lightning have been used to shoot the shots. Prevalent of darkness is the core essence of displaying horror effect to the film. It helps in developing distortion and uneasiness in the audience giving a clear-cut feel of a horror movie. A scene of the movie represented a high and unusual light on the face of Caligiri so as to give a horrified and unusual glow to his face creating a threatening impact on the audiences. It can be stated that light has been used by the director in an innovative manner through casting of shadows against the wall. Showing the camera in an angle with only shadow representing the core aspect of threatening which is the core motive of the movie Caligiri (Ronfard, Gandhi and Boiron, 2015).

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The scene “Cesare sneaking” from the movie “The cabinet of Dr. Caligari” starts with two people walking somewhere and the light in the scene is quite dark indicating something suspicious activity they are going to get involved in. The pace of the scene then changes and that the activities conducted by Cesare becomes a bit fast then normal, where it has been shows that he is involved in something suspicious and planning for the same to be conducted. The angle of the camera is then still where he has been shown hiding from somebody and walking towards it. There is only single individual available in the frame at that time, which is Cesare. The scene then changes and he has been shown moving towards the window of some house and try to sneak peek through it. The scene is still dark and then camera is pan to his sneaking activity to somebody’s house. The camera panning then continuously changes from Cesare to a lady sleeping on the bed. A continuous shift in the camera helps in stating that he is going to do something to the lady (Clover, 2015).

The shadow in it then represents that some horrifying activity is going to take place. The scene has become dark and angle to the shot is straight. In order to emphasise on the objects available in the house, the angle of the camera has narrow down where the scenes have been shot through zoom in activity. It helps in grabbing the viewers attentions towards a particular activity (Kashiide and, 2015). Moreover, it is also a representation that something interesting is going to happen in the movie in next few minutes. The angle of the camera then zooms out showing two characters in the frame at the same time. It indicates that Cesare is going to perform certain activity with the women who has been sleeping on the bed. The frame again zooms in focussing on Cesare and the instrument in his hand. The background has been dulled so as to bring entire focus on that character. The straight angle of the scene is then displayed and just the camera being moving forward with the slow pace so as to show intensity of the scene (Brown, 2016). The scene then changes and a close-up face will extra glowing light of Cesare has been shown so as to communicate that some really horror scene is going to take place and the motive of Cesare with the knife is not right and moral. The frame then keeps changing from zoom in to zoom out. There is one individual in the zoom in frame and the lad lying on the bed is shown in the zoom out scenes at that time.

A continuous shift in the frame activity helps in defining the condition that may be approaching after the particular scene. The manipulation of lights and shadows used in it with out black and white shade of colours is quite impressive. The lightening technique helps in dulling, contrasting and giving out focus to a particular activity, creating interesting shadows for higher definition. The director has beautifully been able to describe beauty of the scenes with imbalanced proportions in order to prepare the set of the story in an expression style. The windows and walkaways are not represented based upon original symmetric formats but have been embodied with unusual shapes and sizes (Merabti and, 2015).

Analysis of various elements of mise-en-scene 

Mise-en-scene is a clear representation of various scenes that have been used in the movie. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has been filmed in a theatrical manner which are quote strange, distorted, angular buildings and painted on shadows. With the help of Mis-en-scene, the director have been able to reflect that how the design of the set can be used inputting it up in an expressionist paintings and using art in good format that can help in making the movie rather more expressionist. The acting done by the actors have also been able to effectively narrate the story to the audience in most defined manner (Bares and, 2015).

The cinematography used in the movie is simple yet effective. The use of light by painting fake shadows and it is appeared to be quite sharp and harsh on screen. Analysing the camera work, it can be stated that size of shots is quite aligned and similar to one another. Majority of the shots used in the film are medium and ling only (Higgins and, 2016). One of the possible reason of it may be due to the preference of director to see the design of overall shot so that they can be able to properly absorb overall eccentric feel of the movie. There are certain close up scenes that are used in the films which majorly has been displayed with the aim of focusing the attention of audience over a particular action or expression. The camera staying too long over the face of Cesare representing that something eerie is going to happen in the scene. Another reason of long shot is due to camera is not seeing Cesare as a person but as an object which is moving from one place to another.

One of the interesting aspect that has been noticed in the movie is related to editing effect from beginning till the end. Iris effect has been used by the editing professionals many a times whereby circular and diamond shaped opening moves in and out to create an impact (Seppälä, 2015). It is usually used to bring attention of the audience towards a particular thing or individual.


From the above report, it can be concluded that, all the elements related to character, action, studio setting, camera, editing and other cinematographic actions have been performed in the most effect manner so that it can be communicated to the audience in best possible manner. The chosen scene have been effectively shot in terms of camera angle and position, editing and screen frame aspect.


  • Bares, W. and, 2015, May. Film ties: an architecture for collaborative data-driven cinematography. In Proceedings of the Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing (pp. 63-68). Eurographics Association.
  • Barsam, R. and Monahan, D., 2015. Looking at movies. WW Norton & Company.
  • Brown, B., 2016. Cinematography: theory and practice: image making for cinematographers and directors. Taylor & Francis.
  • Clover, C. J., 2015. Men, women, and chain saws: Gender in the modern horror film. Princeton University Press.
  • Higgins, C. and, 2016. Transnational Cinematography Studies. Lexington Books.
  • Kashiide, Y. and, 2015. Developer accommodating unit, developing device, process cartridge and electrophotographic image forming apparatus. U.S. Patent 9,052,640.
  • Merabti, B. and, 2015, May. Insight: An annotation tool and format for film analysis. In Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing (p. 57). The Eurographics Association.
  • Prince, S., 2015. Movies and meaning. An introduction to film. Boston: Allyn.
  • Ronfard, R., Gandhi, V. and Boiron, L., 2015. The prose storyboard language: A tool for annotating and directing movies. arXiv preprint arXiv:1508.07593.
  • Seppälä, J., 2015. On the heterogeneity of cinematography in the films of Aki Kaurismäki. Projections. 9(2). pp.20-39.
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