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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. This political analytic frame is influenced by Fredric Jameson who criticized structuralism by offering a meta-interpretation of the text. Indeed, the overarching political formulations in this essay will be understood in terms of Jameson’s Political Unconscious (2002) that “conceives of the political perspective not as some supplementary method, not as an optional auxiliary to other interpretative critical methods current today -- the psychoanalytic or the mythcritical, the stylistic, the mythcritical, the structural -- but rather as the absolute horizon of all reading and all interpretation (p. 17)."
Even as Jameson argues for the overarching necessity of interpreting the text through political analysis, this essay also develops a contrasting trajectory for the structural dramatic analysis of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). The analysis largely follows the historical ontology established by Keir Elam in Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (1980). In keeping with the Saussurean understanding of the shifting nature of the linguistic sign, when possible the analysis adheres to direct critical source material from the early formulations of the Prague School to contemporary Post-Structural incarnations of the cultural object. In all instances the analysis has attempted to go beyond mere critical examination, and also indicate the practical applications a semiotic understanding of theatre and film holds for a dramatic performance.
This essay advances both a political and structural analytic framework in the examination of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). While this theories many be seen to contradict each other, the essay argues that examining the film with these corresponding critical
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