ical Imaginary, the parallels between the enchanting and hypnotizing Caligari and a German authoritarian regime are abundantly clear (Elsasesser, 2004, p. 72). The film seems to equally represent the disturbed German psyche and act as prescient element of the later Nazi regime. While there are clear links between the film and the mind, many prominent film theories conflict such a depiction. This essay examines how the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari complicates Munsterbergs the Photoplay and his discussion on attention, and Eisensteins essays on Film Form through the physical depiction of the mind.
Munsterberg’s theory of attention as articulated in the Photoplay considers the nature of film meaning in terms of viewer attention. In this context of understanding, he notes “Of all internal functions which create the meaning of the world around us, the most central is the attention. The chaos of the surrounding impressions is organized into a real cosmos of experience by our selection of that which is significant and of consequence” (Munsterberg). Here Munsterberg is indicating that rather than more subtle aspects of film expression, meaning is largely a factor of the viewer’s attention. When one considers such a theory in terms of Caligari there are a number of considerations. After the initial scene with Francis in the asylum the film opens onto the highly stylized Expressionist ‘mountains’ of the town featured in Francis’ story. The German Expressionist scenery is interesting to consider as it challenges the distinguishing features Munsterberg’s theory of attention. While the director incorporates the mountain backdrop as a functional element of setting, its distorted German Expressionist influence, while not constituting the main focus of attention, nevertheless greatly affects the meaning and tone of the scene. For instance, while it clearly exhibits a denotative aspect – mountain cutouts clearly denote mountains – one can also make the case that the