Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wendy's FIlms of 2010 #32: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

I honestly thought I'd seen this before! And I must admit I'm a little ashamed that I hadn't seen it all the way through - the ending if fantastic. It does, however, give me the occasion to write this review, which is nice. It's the tale of a the young man that watches as mysterious killings start to occur after Dr. Caligari's Somnambulist at the town fair predicts one man's death. Of course I can't mention the film without putting it in the context of German Expressionism, a movement that saw intense shadows, angular shapes and high contrast between light and dark in the lighting and makeup of its cinema. It was the forbearer of Film Noir, and its impact on this film makes the story even more dark, twisted and sinister. The film is much better than I remember it being, perhaps because I'd just started studying film the first time I saw it and wasn't as appreciative of silent cinema as I am now. The quality of the film was enhanced by my good fortune to see it with a live orchestral group called Melodeon in a church with amazing acoustics. The score by Andrew Downing, a member of the group, was fantastic and made every menacing moment even more forbidding. It is a must see for any film student, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to step outside the box and see something quite different from what they've had the opportunity to watch before.

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