Friday, September 18, 2009

06. Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari/The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

Running Time: 71 minutes
Directed By: Robert Wiene
Written By: Rudolf Meinert, Erich Pommer
Main Cast: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Fehrer, Lil Dagover


Finally a movie comes along that I can really sink my teeth into and something that I really, genuinely enjoyed!

Let's jump right into it, shall we...

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari starts out with a man (Francis) recounting a tale of horror that he was fortunate enough to live through, to another man, who has claimed to have been chased from his home by "spirits". Francis insists that what he's seen is much worse than spirits and begins his story.

Dr. Caligari, on one afternoon, marches into the town clerk's office and requests a permit to feature an attraction at the annual fair. The town clerk (sitting on a ridiculously high stool) grants him his permit, but not before asking him what the sideshow attraction is, that he plans to bring to the fair. A somnambulist, or basically, a zombie.

At the fair we see crowds of people lining up to get a look at this strange, living dead creature. Francis and his friend Alan are there as well and after paying their toll, they enter, the cabinet of Dr. Caligari, to see his freak.

Then murders begin happening in the town, as two people (including Alan, Francis' friend) are found dead. Francis quickly suspects Caligari and his somnambulist (names Cesare) have something to do with this. He begins to trail Caligari, even spying on him as he sleeps, but is never able to quite catch him in the act of committing or having anything to do with the murders.

I'll go ahead and leave the plot alone from here on out, as I really don't wanna spoil the ending, which may, in fact, be the first twist ending in film history.

Suffice it to say, this movie is fantastic. I'm so glad to discover that I wasn't just being ignorant to silent cinema and hating EVERYTHING I saw, and something finally breaks out and knocks me for a loop. The ending is spectacular and totally hit me off guard, as I didn't even think the phrase "twist ending" existed in 1919. Another thing I love about this film...the sets. It's like something out of a Tim Burton film, as if someone let their very creative child go crazy with finger paints and cardboard. Dr. Caligari also has a very menacing appearance, with long grey, unwashed hair, wrinkles, a bit of a hunchback, a staff, a top hat and a big cloak.

RATING: 8/10 An "8/10" was my initial knee jerk reaction of a rating. However, I could definitely see this one rising higher with a little time and maybe another viewing. Do yourself a favor and check this out before you die, because it's really good and far superior than anything else I've experienced pre-1920's.

NEXT UP: Broken Blossoms... Fuck, Griffith's back.

September 18, 2009 4:53am

1 comment:

  1. Glad you finally got to enjoy one, now back to Griffith hopefully he will have improved.


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