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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

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Author Topic: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  (Read 239 times)
Aphrodite
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« on: October 05, 2007, 10:51:31 pm »



Writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer met each other in Berlin following World War I. The two saw the then-new film medium as a revolutionary form of artistic expression visual storytelling that necessitated collaboration between writers and painters, cameramen, actors, directors. They felt that film was the ideal medium through which to both call attention to the emerging pacifism in postwar Germany and exhibit the radical anti-bourgeois art.

Although neither had connections to any Berlin film company, they decided to concoct a scenario. As both were enthusiastic about Paul Wegener's works, they chose to write a horror film. The duo drew from past experiences Janowitz had disturbing memories of a night in 1913, in Hamburg: After leaving a fair he had walked into a park bordering the Holstenwall and glimpsed a stranger as he disappeared into the shadows after having mysteriously emerged from the bushes. The next morning, a young woman's ravaged body was found. Mayer was still embittered about his sessions during the war with an autocratic, highly ranked, military psychiatrist.

At night, Janowitz and Mayer would often go to a nearby fair. One evening, they saw a sideshow titled "Man and Machine", in which a man did feats of strength and forecast the future while supposedly in a hypnotic trance. Inspired by this, Janowitz and Mayer devised their story that night and wrote it in the following six weeks. The name "Caligari" came from a book Mayer read, in which an officer named Caligari was mentioned.

When the duo approached Erich Pommer about the story, Pommer tried to have them thrown out of his small Decla studio. But when they insisted on telling him their film story, Pommer was so impressed that he bought it on the spot, and agreed to have the film produced in expressionistic style, partly as a concession to his studio only having a limited quota of power and light.
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