Friday, October 30, 2009

31 days of Halloween: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German expressionism horror film directed by Robert Wiene.

Overall the movie was absolutely astonishing in terms of its visuals, but for the most part the story was lacking a bit. Only toward the end did it really start to pick up. Then again, for being a 67 minute film (at least the version I saw), it was pretty good.

The visuals were breathtaking and like a nightmare at the same time. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is regarded as the first German expressionist film (or at least the film that broke the technique into mainstream) - if I remember correctly. The sets are a sight to see, and frankly no film could honestly pull something so bizarre off today. Absolutely all of the doors are crooked, the windows slanted, walkways are bent, roads twist and turn, and it all looks like some bizarre painting that Salvador DalĂ­ would have relished in.

Even though I found the story lacking a little bit, though it's the dawn of cinema, what should I expect, it was quite clever. The set up of the story is completely innocuous, and is dashed to shreds later on, much to my surprise. The story opens in a pretty dull and "normal" setting, and quickly thrusts the viewer and the characters into the "expressionistic reality" which could easily be viewed as a dream-world nightmare of epic proportions.

I personally would have to say that the more seasoned film buffs should check this film out, as it will probably confuse or bore the plebeians. It's not quite so scary as it is creepy and disturbing. The story has been lifted time and time again over the years, probably lessening the impact of the story to today's audience compared to when it was first released.


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