Wednesday, 26 February 2020

ein filmspiel in 6 akten

Debuting in the Weimar Republic on this day in 1920 and released just as the international restrictions on German productions were being relaxed after World War I, the silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (Namensgeber also of our faithful chronicler), directed by Robert Wiene with co-writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, is considered the defining work of Expressionist cinema and has a legacy that informs all subsequent film-making.
Wanting to emulate an eighteenth century north Italian mystic who reportedly had an unwitting, sleepwalking subject commit murders on his master’s behalf, the director of a local insane asylum poses as a side-show and obtains a license—after some persistence—to hold a hypnotist, somnambulist act during a village fête and use the audience as further victims and test-subjects for his investigations into the psyche through the power of suggestibility and demagoguery.