The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari Movie Review
The film that Ranboo’s current arc and relationship with Dream shares many parallels with is The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. Both are about villains who are tyrannical control freaks representing authority, and contain themes of a malevolent force controlling someone who has no agency in their actions due to this.
For context, The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari is about a mad doctor who works as a travelling performer. In his act, he uses a somnambulist, or sleepwalker, that he discovered, Cesare, to supposedly predict people’s futures. When night falls, however, Dr Caligari instructs Cesare to do his bidding in nefarious deeds, most of them being murder. Cesare has no true free will and is a puppet of Dr Caligari. His actions are not his own and only occur whilst he is sleepwalking. When he is not sleepwalking, he resides in the titular cabinet, unaware of what he’s done.
In this situation, Ranboo is Cesare and Dream is Dr. Caligari. We know there is a definite connection between those two. Ranboo is under control of some sort by Dream, as evidenced by his negative voice being Dream. This voice is not Dream himself, but shows a definite connection between the two, as clearly Ranboo synonymizes Dream with that sort of negativity, making him symbolic of it. This sort of symbolism is indicative of some past or continuing connection. Ranboo, while he’s since been exonerated, was under the belief he had blown up the community house and did not remember it. Ranboo has frequent memory lapses in which he does not recall what he does. To keep track of things, he keeps a memory book, but said memory book has been regularly tampered with by an outside force, most likely Dream based on the hallmark smiley faces found in modified memories. Along with the smiley faces, there are no other forces so malevolent and all present like Dream is. No one else on the server, as far as we know, has any reason to use Ranboo for nefarious purposes. We as the audience are aware of it being Dream because of this, but Ranboo is unaware in the same way Cesare is unaware he is being used as a killing machine by Caligari. In addition, he canonically sleepwalks. He is a somnambulist, like Cesare. These sleepwalk-like states are another time Ranboo does things outside of his bidding, which at this time is unknown to the viewers, but is likely something strange and something Ranboo has no agency is. Both characters are somnambulists being manipulated into doing horrible things by a malevolent outside force. The malevolent force in question, using their victims preexisting conditions to their advantage. Caligari is never truly freed from the consequences of his actions, but is released from them in a way, as he is able to let his final would-be victim go, before dying of exhaustion. The end for Ranboo is yet to be seen, but with Dream in prison, we could potentially see him breaking the control in a way Cesare was never able to.
The Dream and Caligari connection extends further than his relationship with Ranboo. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, like many Weimar era films, carries themes of authoritarianism. Dr. Caligari represents authority in many ways. While he is the malevolent force behind Cesare’s murder spree, he is authority in another way. The film itself takes the form of a frame story, the protagonist, named Francis, actually being an inmate at an asylum, telling the tale to another inmate. Dr Caligari, in this situation, is the director of the asylum. This being an asylum in the 1920’s, there is likely a good reason for Francis to make Caligari the villain in the story. He’s likely suffered under his hands as well. Caligari represents all powerful authority, cruelty, and insane tyranny. Caligari is insane as he is obsessed with control over Cesare since he feels entitled to this control since he strives to be like an ancient mystic he shares a name with. There is no character more insane, tyrannical and authoritarian than Dream. He is obsessed with power, as he also feels entitled to this power for no reason beyond the fact that he owns the server. Dream has not only caused problems with Ranboo through his manipulation and abuse of his sleepwalking, but also to many others, and the SMP as a whole. These others could be represented in the many others in the asylum, but most clearly in Francis, who does have onscreen suffering under Caligari’s demands. Francis works as an analogue to Tommy, the Dream SMP’s de-facto protagonist in this case. He is the symbol of anti authoritarianism in the film in both the frame story and the story of Cesare. Francis is considered delusional for questioning Caligari and ends the film locked in a padded cell in solitary confinement, Dr Caligari stating he believes it will help him solve this delusion. A punishment akin to Tommy’s exile. Meanwhile, in the story of Cesare as told by Francis, Caligari’s crimes are uncovered by Francis through his own work outside of the town’s authority. When good prevails, Caligari is taken away and put into a padded cell in solitary confinement. This is exactly like how Tommy uncovers Dream’s crimes, and Dream being placed into The Prison. In addition, the cell in Francis’ story is the same cell Francis is placed into at the end of the film, quite like how Dream intended for Tommy to be placed in the prison as a last ditch effort to punish the boy. Caligari’s arbitrary obsession with power and his cruelty in doing so is directly mirrored in Dream, as does his punishment.
Dream is a puppet master type villian, akin to the controlling Caligari and many other villains formed in his mold. Ranboo is simply one of his many victims of his power, and the authority he represents. This authority extends and matches the authority of Dream, and how it causes suffering for everyone. The characters themselves, the themes they represent and their actions all have direct parallels.