Reviewz @ Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari

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When I sat in my European film seminar and my seminar leader made us say the last European film we watched I found myself searching my mind… had I even seen one? The only film that came to mind was Blue Is The Warmest Colour, and I hadn’t seen all of it, but I said it anyway. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (or in German, Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari) was a new take on film that I had never watched before, hence why I want to review it.

Produced in the Weimar Republic in 1920 by Robert Wiene, the expressionist movement was captured between the synthesized guitar and the spiked shapes that crowded the settings walls, allowing the audience into the minds of the characters, despite there being no dialogue, only that shown via the sporadic texts popping up during key events.

Only an hour fifteen minutes long, the movie did make my eyes glanced at the clock once or twice, but not because of a lack of creativity within the production, but because of my own creative ignorance. The over zealous actions of the villain, Dr. Caligari may deter the modern viewer, but if you think of the time of its release, this cinematic experience would have been groundbreaking, and if you think about it in this perspective, still is today.

Revolving around a somnambulist, a sleepwalker who has slept his entire life, manipulated by a asylum director, murders at his masters will. Although we are accustomed to the gratifying classical Hollywood ending,  where the guy gets the girl or the villain is slain, the hero rising from ‘his’ underdog status into the open, European cinema doesn’t allow it’s audiences such simplistic emotions. Cesare, the sleepwalker, is condemned to the mental asylum by Dr. Caligari after law enforcement and Francis, the lover of the woman Cesare attempts to kidnap, discover his part to play in the sleepwalker’s murderous spree. The villain thus receiving a comfortable position despite accusations, with his subject resorting to a life of misery. Leaving the audience in an uncomfortable position, evoking a personal opinion of the film’s narrative and characters, rather than desiring a passive response which usually resulted in successful Hollywood cinema in the early 20th century.

Clearly, this film is to be respected, not only embodying a fascinating narrative along with in depth characters, framed by close ups and expressive body movement; it also impressively captures a movement that had swept through art and literature in a medium that had previously been discarded as popular culture, of no cultural or historical importance.

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Reviewz @ The Picture Of Dorian Gray

Surprisingly, this is the first time I’ve read this Wilde classic, in fact, it’s my first Wilde novel.

To give a quick summary, Dorian Gray is a young man who ‘accidentally’ sells his soul in order to remain youthful. During the period of the novel, he lives a sinful, pleasure seeking life, and his portrait suffers the consequences.

Of course, there is a much more complicated narrative at hand, including the influencing bourgeoise, along with suicide and murder. Not to mention the homoerotic undertones that Wilde became famous for during his trials, it’s sad to think that homosexuality was considered not only a sin, but illegal during the 19th century.

I think that despite everything Dorian Gray did; caused the suicide of an innocent young woman, murdered a friend and blackmailed a doctor… it is still very much possible to empathize with his character. Have you ever felt in your life that something has spun so far out of control that there is no going back? Although the situation is more often than not, reversible, in Dorian’s situation, after the influence of the yellow book, there was no going back for his soul, which was shut away in his shadowed attic.

There are hints of Dorian’s conscience deep down within the fabula of the narrative, for example, his killing of Basil, was his rage at what had become of him. Despite becoming even more corrupt and not even having regret for what he had done, naming Basil “the thing” after his death. His desire to go to the docks and take substances to cloud his mind suggests that he wants to forget all his life has amounted to. When a young boy, Dorian did not realise the consequences of words that all modern teenagers have probably thought themselves – due to the fear of becoming old.

Of course, Wilde once stated that this was not a book with a moral message, due to his belief in the aesthetic movement, art having no morality, art for art’s sake. However, at a later date, he did admit that there was a moral within the story, Dorian’s death was a lesson. Most likely interpreted differently by every reader. On the surface, the idea of just desserts is clear, however, read deeper I believe there is something else. Everything catches up with you, you can hide it in the attic just as Dorian did, or in the back of your mind. You can hide your true self, pretend to be someone else. Eventually, that will break, the act will become too much, too many lies to keep up with.

I would definitely recommend reading this book, it is a necessity for any bookworm out there, and one to cross off the list!