16th February, 2017.
Have you ever heard of an actor called Conrad Veidt?
German chap, so you know.
Who’d done well for himself in German cinema and theatre: until he fled Germany before World War 2, as his wife was Jewish.
I had: but, in all honesty, could claim to have seen a film he appears in.
Oh, I know he crops up in Casablanca.
I’ve not actually seen it, though: yes, I know that’s possibly a hanging offence.
But there you go.
Sue me … !
At any rate?
At any rate, and just to re-iterate?
I’ve never actually seen a film with Conrad Veidt in it.
Not for lack of interest, either: more a lack of time, money …
And possibly motivation, as well.
Tonight, though, I had a night off.
A desire to see a film.
And a copy of a film — with Conrad Veidt in a key role — that I’d been interested in for some time.
The film … ?
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari: or Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, in the original German.
I wanted to catch it, not because Veidt’s appeared in the key role of Cesare.
But because the film has something of a reputation …
The film opens: by introducing us to Francis — Friedrich Feher — who tells his unnamed, elderly, companion that the won who’s just passed them by is his fiancée, Jane, played by Lil Dagover.
It seems they have been through a lot.
The story shifts in to flashback mode. And shows us Francis, and his old friend, Alan, deciding to go to a local fair.
A fair? Where they’re drawn to a sideshow run by Dr Caligari (Werner Krauß), complete with his cabinet.
A cabinet containing the sleepwalker, Cesare (Veidt) … who, on cue?
Predicts Alan’s death, the following morning.
Needless to say, that’s the second mysterious death in the area …
Seemingly tied to Cesare … and the mysterious showman, Dr Caligari
Am I pleased to have seen The Cabinet of Dr Caligari? And was my time and money well spent?
I think … that I can say yes.
Last question first, shall we?
My source for tonight’s film? Was a blu-ray copy of the film that I picked up from Amazon: and one that seemed to come with quite a few extras, as well.
All of that for reasonable £9·99p, for a dual format film: containing identical content on both blu-ray and DVD.
Which seems reasonable: to me, at least.
On top of that … ?
My usual process of turning the blu-ray into something I could watch on my Apple TV — ripping the disc with MakeMKV, then turning the resulting
.m4vwith Handbrake — went well.
I’m just thankful I ripped the subtitles as part of the process.
My German’s not good!
The film itself?
I’ve walked away from a film, tonight: that tells us a story of a man who’s gone mad.
And spun a complex, coherent story, out of his delusions, surroundings, and fellow patients: emphasising these with it’s by now famous set design.
AND leaves us giving the director of the asylum — who Francis has turned into the evil doctor of the title — a second glance at the film’s ending: when he tells us he knows how to cure his patient.
I’ll try not to say much … but the phrase “You must become Caligari,” is pivotal towards the end of Act five.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is the first film to try and project a person’s inner trauma onto the big screen: much in the same way Franklin, Gothika, and many others do.
Not every one will be interested in cinematic history.
Those of us that do … ?
Will find The Cabinet of Dr Caligari worth watching.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari