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T500FC, 499th: Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari [The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari] (Robert Wiene, 1920)

February.15.2011

German cinema is definitely awesome before the World War 2 era especially during the nineteen twenties and the nineteen thirties. Fascinating films with the likes of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Josef Von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, and Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl are some of the examples that would still wow you despite the almost century old difference. And one of the first expressionist films such as Robert Weine’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, one can really say that there was an outburst of creativity during that time.

I’ve been hearing a lot about this film ever since I started to delve into the moving art department. Lucky me, I found the right time and effort to finally get a copy of this German classic. And what the lists were saying were true, you have to watch this film.

The story is quite complex actually, it tells about a doctor using a somnambulist in a carnival for money by using the sleepwalker as a foresight person of some sort. Two friends enter the place and one of them asks of one’s death, and the prediction is carried out. The friend continued to investigate the event and tried to pinpoint the doctor in the killing, with the help of his affianced lady.

Aside from the delivery of the film, which was told in flashback, one can really notice the art used in the background. It was kind of baroque but it went well with the main elements of the film. The film could’ve bombed if it was shown today but it would’ve attracted a lot of curiosity before and even I would take a chance to watch it if I lived in that day and age. And since this is a silent film, even the scene with the texts provides abstract art that would surely make the viewer interested.

The film was labeled as one of the early horror classics not just for the German cinema and I absolutely agree with that. One of the memorable scenes provide us with the sleepwalker waking up to give the prophecy, it was a good minute or so of a still shot to the waking somnambulist, it was kind of scary ala the Frankenstein monster.

The thing is, this film is a layered movie on its own. My description of the film doesn’t end there. One last thing it provides is an intelligent plot twist that people would, and still using, up until today.

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