Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari"

This is one of those German Expressionist films from the era of silent cinema. I saw it in Berlin over Easter, with local musicians Picture Palace Music providing the obligatory post-rock/electonica musical accompaniment. The film is a classic of cinema, so maybe you have seen it? Its great claim to fame is that it totally eschews realism in its set design, instead having the action taking place in a nightmare world of crooked buildings and oddly shaped items of furniture items. The story itself has a darkly dreamlike quality, not just for its use of somnambulism as major plot device. This is one of my favourite films ever, and I urge anyone who has not seen it to watch it forthwith. As you probably know, it was, visually, a major influence on later films like Carol Reed's The Third Man.

The music was pretty good, but it suffered a bit from the same problem that bedevils this kind of thing – basically, for much of the time, it was just too loud. In this context, loud equals distracting. The same thing happened when I saw the film in Dublin with local fellow 3epkano doing the music. In contrast, the sound levels were more tightly controlled when local electonic fellows DeCal provided the sounds many years ago. Maybe synthesised sounds are more amenable to volume controls.

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