October 26, 2011

Horror-A-Day: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The home stretch is here. There are only a few days left. My impending weekend marathon is starting to take shape and I am frantically searching for those final few movies for the daily watching. The last film I chose was a pseudo-true crime film, a rather aged but effective look at the atrocities committed by the one and only Ed Gein, only here he was called Ezra Cobb. This time around I went in a different direction, one that is an attempt at more of an arty sort of film and somewhat achieving said goal.

So, what do you think of when you hear he title The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Surprisingly many people I spoke to today had never heard of it. I am not expecting them all to have seen it, but it is not like it is an obscure title. It is a landmark in German Expressionism and a movie that is regarded along the lines of Nosferatu and Metropolis. In any case, the 1920 Robert Wiene directed film is not what I watched. So, what was the point of this?

The movie I watched was a 2005 remix by writer/director David Lee Fisher. That's right, a remix, not a remake or even a reimagining. You could even look at it as the dub version. Well, maybe not, but I think you get the idea. What he did was scan the original film, digitally, and recast the roles and gave them speaking parts. He then recreated the film with modern actors green screened over the original backdrops.

In many ways the employed concept is reminiscent of Gus Van Sant shot for shot remake of Psycho. However, i still find that film to be a bit of a mess and did not like it one bit. So far as this remixed Caligari goes, the end result, while not perfect, is actually rather interesting as an experiment or exercise in bringing old world and new world movie techniques together in the digital backlot.

This experiment uses modern technologies to recreate the look and feel of the original with spoken dialogue. Fisher has the actors painted up in the same style of makeup, employs the same angles, and looks to recreate the light and shadows of the original. The finished project is not exactly exciting, but it is intriguing. It is in no way a replacement of the original, but it is a worthy curiosity to be seen as an add on to the original.

So, go ahead and check this out. I would recommend seeing the original first. Also of note for this remix is that the somnambulist is played by Doug Jones, who has also portrayed Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, the Silver Surfer in the second Fantastic Four, and Pan in Pan's Labyrinth.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment