Director – Robert Wiene
Starring – Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich v Twardowski
Run Time – 77 minutes
Language – silent with English subtitles
Release Date – Friday 29th August
Label – Masters of Cinema
Across six acts, Francis (Feher) tells the tale of his friend Alan (Twardowski) and him competing for the love of Jane (Dagover). While this is happening they visit a carnival in a nearby village. At the carnival they see a show put on by Dr Caligari (Krauss) in which he shows off a somnambulist, a sleepwalker, named Cesare (Veidt). The doctor keeps Cesare asleep for much of the time, this apparently helps him see the future. People seeing the show can ask questions about their own futures and Cesare answers them. Alan is told he does not have long to live.
When the show is over, however, Dr. Caligari awakens Cesare to take part in some evil deeds. The next day the village is shocked to discover that Alan has been murdered.
A classic of cinema, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari is a timeless film that gains new fans with each passing year. The lack of colour and speech does not hinder this masterpiece in anyway, Wiene’s work conveys so much with the technology available at the time.
Masters of Cinema, a Eureka! sub-label, have been busy this summer with Blu-ray/DVD reissues of some timeless feature length films like Faust, Madame DuBarry and Frau Im Mond but the amount of effort into this title has been outstanding. No wonder it is getting a limited theatrical run – seeing it on the big screen will be a sight to behold.
The restoration is truly something beautiful but the story of how it came to be is just as impressive. For a film that is nearly 100 years old to look this good then it must have taken a lot of effort. Which it has, this restoration being the best yet. Previously remastered on three occasions (1980, ’84 and ’95) this presentation came about thanks to the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Stiftung – a foundation that exists to preserve the work of FW Murnau and other notable German films made between 1900 – 1960. Using the film’s camera negative, with help of the German Federal Film Archive, they also used all known prints of the movie from all over the world. Two prints issued for Latin American use have come in very handy.
The 4k restoration, by L’Immagine Ritrovata – Film Conservation & Restoration, is stunning. Any imperfections are barely noticeable as scratches and lines have been drastically reduced. The enhanced picture quality also allows for the actor’s expressions to be seen better. Veidt’s facials become even more enthralling. Great effort has also been taken in getting the film’s colour correct. Most scenes are either orange and black or blue and black, with certain hues used for non-black colour. Compared to previous releases the tones of colour used is markedly different. Great attention has also been paid to making sure the picture has the right contrast. For those that have seen this classic many times before all of this will add up to a must-see release.
Of course this is a movie that has had a lasting impact on the industry and culture. From Viede’s appearance to the awkward sets to the backdrops these all build to a vision that was revolutionary. Expressionism was about to take hold of repressed German cinema and Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari is one of the best known films of this influential genre.
A highly impressive restoration of a movie that is an integral part of cinematic history, Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari is expressionist film at it’s finest.
9 out of 10.
Screening Dates and Venues –
From 29 Aug 14
London – BFI Southbank (14 days) http://bit.ly/1kZB5Vo
London – Curzon Victoria (7 days) http://bit.ly/1wuEqkL
Dublin – Irish Film Institute (7 days) http://bit.ly/1oYg0P8
Edinburgh – Filmhouse (4 days) http://bit.ly/1oYg7tX
Glasgow – GFT (3 days) http://bit.ly/1jPpJbF
Cardiff – Chapter (2 days) http://bit.ly/1wuFqoN
Bristol – Watershed (7 days) http://bit.ly/1t3dl81
Nottingham – Broadway (7 days) http://bit.ly/1oYgipa
Chichester – Chichester Cinema at New Park (1 day) http://bit.ly/1tR5MoV
From 30 Aug 14
London – The Barbican (2 days) http://bit.ly/1oaaI4m
From 31 Aug 14 Cork – Triskel Arts Centre (4 days) http://bit.ly/1rqOBGv
7 Sept 14
London – Everyman Hampstead http://bit.ly/1qWnkyQ
London – Everyman Screen on the Green http://bit.ly/1mlpP6b
10 Sept 14 Brighton – The Emporium (Bijou Electric Empire Forever) http://on.fb.me/1r3Y1se
14 Sept 14 Clevedon – Curzon Community Cinema http://bit.ly/WhlZp5
19 Sept 14 Aberystwyth – Arts Centre http://bit.ly/1nrquCR
19 Sept 14 Nottingham – Broadway (Kino Klubb) http://bit.ly/1t3eL2m
20 Sept 14 Bo’ness – Hippodrome http://bit.ly/1oHRTkM
21 Sept 14 Lancaster – The Dukes http://bit.ly/1l3fV8C
21 Sept 14 London – Rio Cinema http://bit.ly/1se7aNJ
27 Sept 14 Eastbourne – Redoubt Fortress (Filmspot) http://bit.ly/1zIEtxG
15 Oct 14 London – Prince Charles Cinema http://bit.ly/1oBqepz
24 Oct 14 Belfast – QFT http://bit.ly/1oYhhWm
26 Oct 14 Vintage Sunday Screenings across The Picturehouse Chain http://bit.ly/Whmm2P
28 Oct 14 Maidenhead – Norden Farm Centre for the Arts http://bit.ly/1so1pQE
02 Nov 14 Ilkley – The Ilkley Film Festival http://bit.ly/1oYhuZL