Nov 11, 2008

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The majority of film remakes are cinema blasphemy only created because they are a guaranteed moneymaker. Unsurprisingly, a good percentage of remakes are for the horror genre as I doubt the studios really have any respect for their audiences intelligence. When I found out that the 1920 German expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was remade, I became skeptical. On the other hand, I knew the film was not made as a way to cash in on a formally successful franchise. Aside from universities and film societies, I seriously doubt The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari receives many new viewers considering the film is almost 90 years old.

The 2005 “re-imagining” of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari happens to have the sound and set from the original film. The original backgrounds of the 1919 film were scanned and the remake was filmed on a blue screen. This gives the film an odd feeling that you have seen the place before but things are not quite right. I would compare it to a reoccurring nightmare that slightly changes each time. The scanned backgrounds of the original film are fairly seamless in combination with the new acting footage.

The story featured in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is fairly faithful to the original and still retains much of it’s power. It is just a bit odd to watch a film I have seen countless times now featuring sound dialogue. Naturally, this causes one to focus less on the image than if watching the original. As can be expected, the actors featured in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari lack the power of the original performers. But quite honestly, who could champion the acting skills of Conrad Veidt? The actors featured in the remake deserve to be commended just for taking up such a challenge.

For fans of the original film and Guy Maddin, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a film worth seeing. At worst it is a novelty film for those that cherish German expressionist cinema. In these so called “postmodern” days, the re-imagining of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is unsurprising. With the lack of original contemporary masterpieces and original auteur, filmmakers spend more time looking at older films to get inspired. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari(2005) director David Lee Fisher deserves a handshake.

-Ty E


Keith said...

I wasn't sure how I felt about this one. You've given me the urge to give it a shot.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

conrad veidt was a load of old rubbish.

Keir said...

I had a replica Nazi passport made for Col. Strasser using Veidt's photo and stamps ending with Casablanca...
I showed Dr. Caligari to my history class; would like to see the updated version by way of coma prison.
Shame there isn't the option to "follow" this site; it's terrific! I'd love to know what template is used.

Soiled Sinema said...

Thank you very much, Keir. We do have two options to follow the site, however. If you have an account with google you can hit the "Follow" button on the right hand side and if you have a facebook you can like our page. The facebook is more active than the actual blog as not every film we encounter warrants a lengthened review. Most times blurbs cut it.