Showing posts with label 1920. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1920. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Often sited as one of the greatest horror films of the silent era, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German movie and a prime example of German Expressionism. Written by first time screenwriters Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, the script is generally considered to feature the first twist ending in cinematic history. The main thrust of the story is presented in flashback in which a young man called Francis (Friedrich Fehér) recounts a series of terrible murders that took place in the small town of Holstenwall. His story speaks of a Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) who, at a local fair, unveils a fortune telling somnambulist (sleep-walker) whom he is able to control using hypnosis. When murder strikes the small town, the finger is pointed at Caligari and his attraction.

This movie is one which I’ve wanted to see for several years and heard nothing but good things about. It’s with regret then that I have to report that I was often bored by the story. Ending aside, I found it dull and was too often confused by developments. I’m certainly going to pin some of the blame on a poor quality DVD which I bought from the normally reputable Fopp but even seeing through this, I didn’t fall in love with the film. Despite my lack of enjoyment with regards to the plot, the film has much to offer even the most casual film buff.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Charlie Chaplin - The First National Films

Having ended his contract with the Mutual Film Corporation amicably, Charlie Chaplin signed the world’s first One Million Dollar movie contract in June 1918. This contract gave him total control over production for a return of eight films. Chaplin decided to build a new studio off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The famous Chaplin Studios were designed in the style of English country cottages and contained everything Chaplin would need to develop, film and cut his movies. Chaplin eventually sold the studios in 1953 and they are now owned by Jim Henson Company.

Chaplin began work on his first film for First National in early 1918 and A Dog’s Life was released in April. Over the next four years Chaplin shot eight films at his new studio for First National during one of the most turbulent times of his career. In September 1918 he married the seventeen year old actress Mildred Harris in what was and still is a highly controversial marriage. Harris lied to Chaplin about being pregnant and the marriage ended in a messy divorce in 1920. During the same period the star became frustrated with First National’s impatience and lack of concern for quality and in 1919, while still under contract with First National created United Artists with fellow actors and directors Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith. The venture which was self funded and offered the Hollywood stars the chance to work freely and independently although Chaplin himself didn’t make a film with the company until 1922 as he was still under contract with First National.