Thursday, May 16, 2013

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1920)

Wow, here is a silent film that kept my attention so much that I didn't even notice it was silent.  It starts outside in a mental asylum where a guy, Francis, is telling a story. This story is the plot of the film.  A lot of films are like this: told in a flashback by one character. Just get to the point already.

So Francis and his friend are both in love with the same girl. They all go to the carnival together. At this carnival, there is a sideshow featuring a somnambulist named Cesare.  What is a somnambulist ? Turns out it's just a fancy word for someone who sleepwalks. He can see the future, and is being controlled by Dr. Caligari.  We soon learn that Dr. Caligari is hypnotizing Cesare to kill people! Cesare kills Francis's friend and then kidnaps his girlfriend! Francis rescues her and discovers the truth - that Dr. Caligari is running the mental institution and has become obsessed with finding a somnambulist to control. But soon we learn the REAL truth, which also provides us with the very first film twist in history. This movie had a lot of action, and not too much overacting like we see in a lot of silent films.

Wait a second, was any of this real? Was his ladyfriend in any danger? Did any of this really happen? Did Cesare the somnambulist exist at all? Remember at the start of the movie we were being told a story by a man at a mental asylum.  We just saw a silent rendition of the rantings of a crazy person. I'm giving this film a 7/10. Awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely agreed that this film stands above other silent films. It feels fresher, more modern. i love the painted scenery.