Considered one of the greatest films ever made in the silent era, and cited as having introduced the "twist ending" in cinema, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (which also has a 100% critics rating in Rotten Tomatoes) surely is a must-see for cinephiles & horror film lovers.
|Directed by: Robert Wiene|
Written by: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer
Music by: Guiseppe Becce
Cinematography by: Willy Hameister
Running Time: 71 mins
The first scene, I was a bit hesitant whether or not I was in the mood for that kind of film - but I did notice the unique quality of its cinematography. But the moment the little town was introduced, my attention was caught 100%. Tim Burton "feels". I love it!
|the village of Holstenwall|
The rare times that I watch a silent film, it's either I'm enchanted with the music, or the acting, or the story. This time, it's the visuals first and foremost that got me curious. Every single scene was like looking at an artwork in a museum. The distorted little houses or architecture makes you feel like you're staring at paintings of Salvador Dali or even Picasso, and the wonderful play of shadow and light (and the color, at times) sometimes reminds me of my favorite Caravaggio. Seriously, it's amazing. But after the feast I got from the artsy background/set & the wonderful colors or cinematography, the characters intrigued me. I rarely get creeped out just by looking at actors with over the top make up, but TCoDC obviously is the king of all creepy characters. The close-up shots, the play on shadows, the make-up which makes The Rocky Horror Picture Show seem tame, and the jerky dance-like movements of the actors, really unsettles you and creeps you out. In short, everything about this movie has enraptured me!
Sure, this may not be scary by today's standards, and the acting sometimes could be hammy (though that may be intentional), but all that I've mentioned above makes this film highly effective.
Most silent films (at least the serious ones) already have that creep factor without trying hard. Maybe it's the lack of dialogue that forces you, the audience, to watch something without using one of your senses - it leaves you at a disadvantage, thus unsettling you without being aware of it. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is more than that! It's in a totally different level, so other-worldly, so technically superior than most silent films I've watched (though that doesn't mean anything because I've only seen a few.) because it has everything.
And I'll never forget Cesare. The first time I saw his scene with Dr. Caligari, it greatly reminded me of Edward Scissorhands. And if you think about it, you can see a bit of Tim Burton in this production. The weird characters, the equally weird set or background, etc. etc.
|Dr. Caligari & the somnambulist, Cesare|
My Rating: 4.5/5
YOUR POINT OF VIEW: What's your favorite silent film?
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