Watched: July 30 2016
Director: Robert Wiene
Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover
Runtime: 1h 18min
Liquids consumed: 1 cider each
This was a rewatch for us, of a classic German Expressionist horror film, and as it’s from 1920 it is readily available on Youtube. The protagonist tells the story of horrible events that transpired during his and his fiancé’s dealings with Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist (aka sleepwalker) Cesare.
The make-up is excellently creepy and so are the costumes (good shoes, lady!). However, the biggest visual voice is the set. It is mostly painted canvas, and the lines, angles and sizes are all distorted, adding to the nightmarish quality of the film in general.
There is also some very good use of shadows, which is something we’ll see again in the next film, Nosferatu, if memory serves. And, as always, there are fragile women and swooning.
For a Norwegian viewer, being exposed to German is fun! As we both did French in school, our German has limited itself to such phrases as “Was ist das?” and “Ich bin ein wiener schnitzel,” which are not very useful. But watching this film in the original language confirmed the similarities between Norwegian and German, and we can now add to our German vocabulary such words as “somnambuler” which is sure to come in handy!
Despite this being a silent film, it is not inaccessible nor does it demand too much of the viewer. It shares many qualities with “modern” horror films, and it is a good example of great storytelling. It is entertaining, creepy, beautiful and grotesque, with a disturbing, eerie atmosphere throughout. All in all, we thoroughly recommend it!