Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Somnambulist (noun) : 1.) One who enjoys some of what Nambla has to offer.
Genre: Experimental Silent Horror Thriller Drama (Germany)
Starring: Werner Krauss (Tartuffe, Waxworks), Conrad Veidt (The Man Who Laughs, Casablanca)

Directed By: Robert Wiene

Overview: Dr. Caligari wows crowds as he commands a somnambulist in a town where strange murders are taking place.

Acting: The melodrama is ripe, and in this, it's perfectly appropriate. Without the make up, this would not have had the effect that it had, as it added the dark lines that enhanced the exaggerated movements of the faces of our players. The doctor was haunting, the somnambulist was creepy and the madmen in the asylum were pretty damn convincing. I liked it.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The constant use of vignetting was a nice effect. Director Fritz Lang (M, Metropolis) helped a little with this too, which I'm pleased to hear. This German Expressionist film was all about strange angles and exaggerated settings. The scenes' surrealist backgrounds were intentionally fake and odd. For thinking outside of the box in such a major way, high praise. Truly original.
Rating: 8

Script: This had a good bunch of pauses for dialogue boxes and explanatory narrative. I've recently discovered that silent films often don't have enough of those, or the timing is too long or too short. I enjoyed that even the words were in a strange font with sharp angled backgrounds. I got the story, and I liked it, though those pauses could have been shorter in length.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story, though predictable has a nice little twist that is really unpredictable and so original that it's been used in more modern classics. To mention them would ruin the ending for you, so I won't, in hoped that you go out of your way to see this. Though sometimes there were unnecessary moments quite obviously used to fill time, overall a pretty cool story, seriously.
Rating: 7

Mood: This was an experiment in Expressionism. Usually this was reserved strictly for paintings, sculpture and that medium. The balls it took to go ahead and make a film this way has let it survived the test of time. I can't say that the whole thing had me glued, but the look was distinct, artistic, haunting and unique. Pretty cool if you ask me. The theme of madness was really well maintained throughout.
Rating: 8

Somnambulist (noun) : 2.) A great defense for killing your mother in law.

Overall Rating: 76% (Das Kabinett Thinks Outside The Box)

Aftertaste: The first in a long series of recommendations from 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, this was one of those films that will fall under the 'Important' category, rather than the 'Good'. It's a little dated, but the Avant-Garde aspect of this thing is pretty cool. Though I liked it, I just wish there had been more story and less filler.