View Full Version : Ok saw "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"

Joel Groce
04-10-2002, 09:49 AM
I rented this the other day having heard what a classic it was in the genre and so on. It was a really hard watch, but I'm probably not being fair since I was pretty tired at the time. I found the sets interesting creating a dreamlike effect especially when it showed the doctor running away towards the end to the psych hosp. It just wasn't something I would like to sit through again - I almost hate to say that given what a groundbreaking film this was. Perhaps I'm missing something here... who else has seen this classic?

04-10-2002, 02:01 PM
Even though a film is "groundbreaking", this doesn't mean it stands the test of time. As a filmmaker, you can look at it and be influenced, and see where things came from, but audiences are different today, and might not be as easily entertained. Don't remember the last time I saw Caligari, but just wanted to make that comment.

04-10-2002, 04:41 PM
Silents are an aquired taste. If you don't like other silents you might not enjoy silent horror either. Caligari is a fairly early feature silent as well... it's very "stagey", almost a filmed play. Maybe you can give it another shot later. Did you get the Image dvd? The commentary is dry but deeply informative. I liked the film, but then again I love silents a lot... still I think everyone should at least SEE these formative genre films...

04-11-2002, 02:14 AM
I would have to agree with Jog. I personally love silent cinema, especially the European horror silents such as Caligari and Nosferatu. I think to truly enjoy them though, one should do a little background research along the way(social climate of the time, a knowledge of the director or other important participants, a study of the style in which the film was made, such as the avant garde or expressionism, etc.). Fortunately, several of the dvd releases of silent era films have at least some informative liner notes, if not a commentary or on-screen notes, that have done a good job of putting these films in context.

Now, if you are of the persuasion that a movie should be timeless and stand on it's own, then perhaps the silents aren't for you. And I don't mean to sound critical, as there is nothing wrong with this line of thought at all, it's just that one shouldn't beat their head over something that they are just not receptive of. However, if you consider yourself a "student" of film at all, one who is seeking more than just entertainment, I would say to at least try a few more of the silents, and classics for that matter, and see if something doesn't start to stick.

At this point, for you Joel, I wouldn't suggest Nosferatu, just yet, as it also is quite "slow", but you may want to check out Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler, a crime epic by Fritz Lang (who was actually first approached to do Caligari). The Image special edition 2 disc set is a little pricey, but the commentary is extremely informative, and the movie is a whole lot of diabolic fun. It's definitely more "action" oriented than Caligari.

I hope you give a few more silents a try, but they just may not be for you. Oh, and a confession; I often fall asleep watching great movies. I don't know what the hell it is. I know a lot of it is the hour that I'm watching them, pushing myself too far, but also know that if I'm watching some dumb recent action-fest, I probably will stay awake. But I've come to think that this is very normal, as it doesn't take a lot of brainpower or attention span to sit through Armegeddon or Pitch Black, yet trying to watch Lawrence of Arabia or something like Fritz Lang's Destiny will kill your ass everytime.

Joel Groce
04-11-2002, 08:38 AM
Yeah, I think it does help to know a little more about this film going into it - I was reading some stuff on the director's choice of jagged images and light and shadow to depict an atmosphere of instability. I must admit I didn't enjoy "Nosferatu" when I saw it earlier as well. (though I did like the movements of the vampire and the sets). The only other silents I've seen are "Phantom of the Opera" which I really dug and some early Hitchcock films. It does take time to absorb and appreciate some of these films and it's easy to casually dismiss them without knowing the full intentions of the director and so on. Thanks for the recommendations Mutley - I will try to check these out at some point.

04-11-2002, 06:39 PM
You're welcome Joel! And if you liked Phantom, then definitely give Lon Chaney's Hunchback of Notre Dame a shot, if you haven't already. I actually like Hunchback better, as it's more energetic, and the story is more evenly put together. But I still love Phantom, and well, Lon Chaney just kicks ass. :)

04-12-2002, 05:24 PM
I saw Caligari at my German film courses last year.
I thought it was pretty good, but Silent Films are an aquired taste.
If you thought Caligri was a tough watch you might want to avoid 'Metropolis' :)

04-13-2002, 08:29 PM
Especially if you're American and you have to put up the the garbage-quality dvds we have of Metropolis... oh what I go through for you, Fritz!

04-15-2002, 02:04 AM
If anyone has been following the Metropolis reconstruction project, it looks like the immaculately restored film will be released in October 2002, however based on how many times the status of the DVD has changed, I wouldn't hold your breath just yet (It was also to include the Moroder's version from the 80's in a two disc set.) The images from the new restoration look promising. http://metropolis.ninsei.org/

Another thing, regarding Caligari, Nosferatu, etc. Which print did you see? The crappy print via the cheapo discs, or the restored versions via Image? (also note: The prints for Nosferatu and Caligari in "The Masterworks of German Horror Cinema" are shitty reprints of the grainy irregular prints that are no different than the generic releases, the reason for Masterworks is "Der Golem", as it is the nicest print so far, but that's not saying much.) The reason why I asked is because depending on what print you've seen, it could be a completely different viewing experience altogether as films in that era were filmed in irregular speeds, more modern projectors show them a little sped up, the Image DVD's for example have corrected the speed and the tint. If its the content itself that rubs you the wrong way, try Faust... Its a more mainstream attempt at German epic cinematography.