Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
Director: Robert Wiene
Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover and Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, among others.
I've been in something of a psychological rot lately, something that often happens when the seasons are changing. Or when I haven't slept or eaten enough. Or if I have forgotten my medication. Or if I'm hung over. Hell, about seventy eleven times a year, so it's nothing special. But Jesus, is it hard to find energy to write something here, and much less the energy to visit other blogs. I beg of forgiveness for my negligence.
But what can cheer one up if not a weird expressionistic German film? Sadly enough I missed the chance to watch Caligari on the big screen. Well, I didn't miss it as much as I frustrated left the theater when I realized that the copy shown was neither tinted nor had any musical accompaniment at all. That is to take the silent bit a little too far. An artistic catastrophe, in my book.
Instead I watched the film the other day with a glass of rosé wine and a tired boyfriend. I have seen it before, but certain films demand regular re-visits. It also happens that German expressionism is a subject we currently talk about in school. (I still can't believe the amazingness of studying film! And I can't believe that "amazingness" isn't a word accepted by the spell check.)
The beauty and the beast.
Caligari is however one heck of an awesome film. I haven't any base for the following statement, but I believe it must be one of the earliest films with a twist ending. For those who haven't seen it yet, I will say no more than that there is an explanation for the theatrical acting and weird surroundings more than a poor inflation struck German film industry. (The acting was in fact the thing that bother my co-viewer most, while I calmly thought "Just wait and see, love...") But I must add that the Germans were pretty clever handling the bad economy - making an entire film style based on cardboard exteriors scribbled with graffiti.
I might also add that the film industry was the one thing that never suffered greatly from the inflation: the Germans had no need to put money in the bank since the value of the currency sank for every day, so they instead spent the money immediately by for instance going to the movies. Again: smart Germans.
Conrad Veidt - the emo guy.
It's noteworthy that Conrad Veidt, playing the somnambulist Cesare, probably is most known as Major Strasse in Casablanca (1942). (The actor playing Alan, with the glorious name of Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, also appears in Casablanca as the German officer with Yvonne. I have no idea if this was a clever thing or a coincidence, though.) My point with this paragraph is however that this is an example of why the first 50 or so years of film industry is so fascinating: the fact that the same actor can appear in both Caligari and Casablanca, two films that stylistically are light years from each other, shows how much happened with the art of cinema in that relatively short amount of time. One can't see that great of an evolution if one would compare a 1987 film with one from last year.
I created a Dr. Caligari character in Sims yesterday.
My computer screwed up and now he's lost forever.
I realized something beautiful with being a film student recently. Films I have wanted to see for a long time but for some reason never got around to yet, am I finally being push toward viewing. I will for example soon watch Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), The Crowd (1928) and The Wind (1928) - all of them films I haven't yet seen. And The Wind is even directed by Swedish Victor Sjöström! Sometimes I feel like a bad person.
Speaking of Victor Sjöström I had wanted to write something about his masterpiece The Phantom Carriage (1921), that I delightfully and emotionally experienced on the big screen last week. But as I said - the mental rot wanted me to play Nintendo DS 24/7 instead. Perhaps I will write something about that film further on, because it certainly deserves to be highlighted.
I now own it on DVD, in a box set with five other Swedish silent classics. Neat!
Tomorrow I will visit the cinema with my dear mother to watch Shutter Island (2010). I read the book and found it irresistible (but Gone, Baby, Gone by the same author sucked really hard), so I'm pretty excited. I did however watch Alice in Wonderland (2010) in 3D last week - finally! A truly magical and somewhat uncomfortable experience. No, the 3D technique isn't yet perfected, but bring out your inner child and try to imagine watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon in the 1950's. It's a pretty retro experience, and I do recommend watching the latest Tim Burton creation during those circumstances.
Soon I will watch you. Very soon...