David Lee Fisher’s sound remake of Robert Weine’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a sincere form of flattery, but the film is interesting only for about as long as it takes to realize that Fisher has honored Weine’s expressionist aesthetic without improving the original’s creaky plotline. A work of fanboyish gusto, the film, by giving Weine’s silent classic a voice, actually exposes—beyond a reasonable doubt—the original’s unsophisticated storytelling and limited feeling. This new film’s expression is entirely borrowed: Actors perform before green-screen shots from the 1920 film, and though the frame’s depth of field never feels shallow (even when it does, the film compares favorably to the Smashing Pumpkins’s great “Disarm” video), you may wonder what the fuss is all about. The story is the same—Dr. Caligari (Daamen Krall), a hypnotist with a secret past, unleashes a clairvoyant and murderous sleepwalker, Cesare (Doug Jones), unto the expressionist streets of a German hamlet—only the acting is considerably worse. Francis (Judson Pearce Morgan), who competes with his friend Alan (Neil Hopkins) for the affections of Jane (Lauren Birkell) and sets out to investigate Caligari after his friend is murdered, suggests the lead singer from some awful wannabe punk band, like 30 Seconds to Mars, sleepwalking through one of Weine’s fabulously art directed dreams.
- 76 min
- David Lee Fisher
- David Lee Fisher
- Doug Jones, Lauren Birkell, Judson Pearce Morgan, Daamen Krall, Neil Hopkins
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