Friday, July 31, 2015

Silent Horror: The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)

From 1920, older than almost every surviving feature length horror film, this is German Expressionism in film at it's most horrific and raw state.  It gives, actually a glimpse that film was the real driving force behind the artistic (and beyond many would argue) movement--not merely a remnant of German Romanticism, but not quite "brutal" as in "brutal architecture" became later in the 20th century.  There was, of course, the brutality of the Great War, and German Expressionism first found it's way into the visual by way of painting, but with the invention of longer forms of reels of film came the possibility of putting that into motion (sort of).  Director Weine hired two German Expressionist painters to paint the sets for the film:  Herman Warm and Walter Reimann, but it is the grotesque carnival in living pictures that makes the film hard to get out of the mind.  This was certainly a very big influence on Lang's Metropolis.  For that matter, it had to be an influence on Nosferatu as well, in the sense that Max Schreck who plays Orlok seems to have used many of the moves of the Ceasare the somnambulist (Konrad Veidt) in his vampiric movements.  There is also something of the comic book that comes to mind in this film.  The title cards to splashed and splintered, and shove their way onto the screen (see the Sin City movies--only this is better). This is truly a weird one, in both the English meaning of the word and the German as well.  Of course, something this grotesque is not going to get past people like Rob Zombie, so below is an embed of "Living Dead Girl"--his version of The Cabinet.  

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