Author’s Articles

Dr. Caligari’s Lasting Mark on the World of Film

Warning: Contains Spoilers

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariIf you were to discuss German Expressionism in film circles, it’s doubtful the conversation would go more than two minutes without someone mentioning The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). In addition to the fact that it’s one of the earliest films of the genre, it’s one of the most marked examples of German Expressionism’s propensity for focusing on the darker aspects of the human psyche. Moreover, the film utilizes what is perhaps the most extreme example of the dramatic, stylized aesthetic that became a calling card of the German Expressionist genre.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (directed by Robert Wiene) is the story of a young man named Francis, who goes with his friend Alan to a carnival. While there, a presenter named Caligari introduces a man, Cesare, who has supposedly been sleeping his entire life, but who is capable of answering any question put to him. When Alan asks what the date of his own death will be, Cesare responds, “At first dawn.” Sure enough, Alan is found dead the next morning, and what follows is a horrifying thriller in which Francis puts himself and his fiancée Jane in danger as he tries to expose Caligari’s secrets.

Tags: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Movie Review, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Education, Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television, Producing (Film, Video, TV), Screenwriting | No Comments »

Movie Review: Pandora’s Box (1929)

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Many films of the German Expressionist era are stories of monsters and supernatural villains. Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and The Golem are prime examples. Pandora’s Box (1929), more like Fritz Lang’s M, focuses directly on the evils that come from extreme human desire and uncontrolled behavior. Pandora’s Box is the story of Lulu, a young, beautiful prostitute and entertainer played by American actress Louise Brooks. The combination of Lulu’s naïve, narcissistic, and overtly sexual behavior results in intense suffering and multiple deaths, including her own.

Tags: Education, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Movie Review, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Editing (Film, Video, TV), Education (Film, Video, TV), Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television | No Comments »

Filmmaking Lessons from Paul Wegener’s The Golem (1920)

Warning: Contains Spoilers

The Golem (1920), directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, is a retelling of the Jewish story from the 1500s about a rabbi who creates a man from clay—the Golem—and brings him to life. Rabbi Löw’s intent is to use the Golem to protect the Jewish citizens of the Prague ghetto from the aristocracy, who blame the Jews for the death of Christ. As you can imagine, using magic to bring an inanimate creature to life has unintended and disastrous consequences. In this telling, the Golem is played by writer/director/actor Paul Wegener, who was instrumental in the creation of the German Expressionist film genre.

Tags: Film Studies, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Student Film, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Editing (Film, Video, TV), Education, Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television | No Comments »

Book Review: Weimar Cinema, 1919-1933

In Vitro: NY Times Lobby by just.nilaLaurence Kardish’s Weimar Cinema, 1919-1933 is an excellent resource for cinephiles new to the German Expressionist film movement and German Expressionist enthusiasts looking for an encyclopedia of films from the genre. The book is broken up into two sections: the first is a collection of essays about the German Expressionist film aesthetic and discusses competing theories of the genre’s origins as well as explanations for the genre’s critical, and sometimes commercial, success; the second is a 150-page catalog containing titles, technical specifications, and summaries of German Expressionist films, as well as still photographs from the productions.

Tags: German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, German film, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Education (Film, Video, TV), Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television, Non-Fiction, Writing | No Comments »

Own What You Don’t Know

Geoffrey CanadaI recently read the book Fist Stick Knife Gun by Geoffrey Canada, who has received national acclaim as President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone and founder of the Promise Academy charter school. In his book, Canada describes his experience as a young African-American growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s and 60s. After getting through barely one chapter of the book, I felt as if someone had slapped me in the face. What’s more, I felt as if I’d needed it.

Like many people, I watch the news and read articles online, and, without realizing it, fool myself into believing I know a lot more about an issue than I really do. I may understand certain economic and social factors that contribute to inner-city poverty and violence, but I don’t actually know anything about what it’s like to live through it. Moreover, the handful of facts I do understand don’t translate into a comprehensive knowledge of the issue and what we, as Americans, can do about it.

Tags: civil rights, current events, Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children's Zone, politics
Posted in Education | No Comments »