Essay On How The Bicycle Thief Differs From The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari Using Classical Film’s Expressionistic And Realistic Theories As A Basis Of Argument

2205 words - 9 pages

Pieter Fourie (2011) defines theory as an activity that is not only intellectual but also
critical, dealing with unfamiliar questions about the nature of the film as a
phenomenon. Classical film however, deals with how film represents reality and
whether the representation should be realistic or expressionistic. This essay is going
to explain how The Bicycle Thief (1948), differs from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
using classical film’s expressionistic and realistic theories as a basis of argument.2
2.1The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
When two friends, Francis and Alan are at a carnival, they stumble across the strange
Dr. Caligari who was showing off his somnambulist named Censare who is a
hypnotized self-proclaimed prophet who prophecies that Alan will wake up dead the
following day. When this comes true, Censare becomes the prime suspect but nobody
knows if he is guilty or if the doctor is controlling him.
2.2The Bicycle Thief (1948)
An unemployed man named Antonio found a job as a poster hanger and his wife sold
some of their belongings to retrieve their bicycle from the pawn shop. Unfortunately,
someone steals the bike which puts his job at risk. With the help of his son Bruno,
Antonio goes all around the city trying to find the person who stole his bike so that he
can save his job.
Prior Classical film theory, the film theories that simplified the interpretation and study
of film were derived by a Russian Director, Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), who came
up with the establishment, medium and the close-up theories. His theory broke up
types of films into three with the first being the establishment theory which had a major
focus on the social context in which films were made. The medium shot theory
demarcated a specific scene and although it would not go into detail, it emphasized
the relationship between a film and its spectators: it’s viewers and the human
relationships occurring in the film. The last theory was the close-up theory which dived
further into detail, emphasizing on the different aspects and components that made up
a film and the ways in which the film conveyed its meaning which is the semiotics of
the film (Fourie, 2001)
Classical film theory as mentioned in the introduction is mainly concerned with how
reality is represented and whether the representation should be realistic or
expressionistic/formalistic. This theory can be traced back to the classic Greek
Philosophy fore fronted by Plato’s and Aristotle’s ideas on the nature and role of art,
and how they interpreted mimesis which is an imitation or a representation of
something. Plato’s observations and interpretations of art, saw art as being an inferior
replica of reality and believed that no artist could have artistic vision or contribution to
the arts. He believed that all products were merely an imitation of reality or nature
(Fourie, 2001).
Aristotle, on the other hand, saw mimesis as a process that ...

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