Jan. 25, 2023Print | PDF
February 11, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:
A live soundtrack to the classic silent film
Directed by Kathryn Ladano
May Black, trombone
Nicole Chan, piano
Isabell Chung, electric bass/voice
Andy Drummond, clarinet
Charlie Dunsmuir, baritone saxophone/voice
Mara Hale, vibraphone
Shatira Jackson, guitar/voice
Yea Eun Kim, voice
Ethan Loney, saxophone
Griffin Noriega-Rivas, electric guitar
Charlie Romeo, electric guitar
James Rotondi, classical guitar
Robert Rozzi, drums
Natalia Sawyer, piano
Derica Scott, piano
Simon Van Hezewyk, trumpet
Nuha Yousuf, voice
Kurtis Zantingh, acoustic guitar
With guest performer - Kathryn Ladano, bass clarinet
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures, and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets.
The script was inspired by various experiences from the lives of Janowitz and Mayer, both pacifists who were left distrustful of authority after their experiences with the military during World War I. The film thematizes brutal and irrational authority. Writers and scholars have argued the film reflects a subconscious need in German society for a tyrant and is an example of Germany's obedience to authority and unwillingness to rebel against deranged authority. Some critics have interpreted Caligari as representing the German war government, with Cesare symbolic of the common man conditioned, like soldiers, to kill. Other themes of the film include the destabilized contrast between insanity and sanity, the subjective perception of reality, and the duality of human nature.
Critic Roger Ebert called it arguably "the first true horror film”. Considered a classic, it helped draw worldwide attention to the artistic merit of German cinema and had a major influence on American films, particularly in the genres of horror and film noir.
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