Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari] (1920) + Cameron Carpenter

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
Director: Robert Wiene
Writer: Carl Mayer, Hans Janowitz
Cast: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Rudolf Lettinger
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Cameron Carpenter
Seen on: 20.5.2017

Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) and Francis (Friedrich Feher) visit the fair where they see the show of Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). Caligari is a hypnotist who shows off a somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt). After Caligari wakes Cesare from his sleep, Cesare predicts the future. In this case specifically, he predicts Alan’s death. The very next day Alan is dead, and Francis is deeply suspicious of Cesare.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a pretty astonishing film and the combination of this film with Cameron Carpenter and his music really was the perfect storm, making this event a perfectly stylish evening.

I kinda wish that I had seen this film when it first came out and when the plot twist must have blown people’s minds. By now the twist isn’t all that surprising as almost a hundred years of movies that happened in the meantime have trained the audience to recognize the cues (probably) established by this film.

But I’d say the plot is definitely secondary to the visuality of the film. And that remains staggering. With those sets and the play with perspectives the movie manages to create a sense of being displaced, of being set in a non-place. But a non-place with an awful lot of style.

Cameron Carpenter has at least as much style as the film, and his music and extraordinary organ as well as his entire performance and persona are a perfect fit for this film. It certainly fit on this meta level, but the music was also definitely a narrative fit that worked to support, or rather co-tell, the story in the best possible way.

I was absolutely fascinated throughout the evening. Fascinated by Carpenter’s performance, by the film’s looks, by Veidt’s presence in the film. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is definitely a film that proves that it deserves its status as a movie classic.

Summarizing: Fantastic.

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