Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari
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(Jun 12, 2012)
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I have copies of both the Kino Video edition and the Image Entertainment edition. My preference is for Image Entertainment for the following reasons:
(1) The print seems slightly cleaner (and most helpfully, the DVD packaging warns you about the horizontal line across the top of some scenes which is a defect on the original film)
(2) The intertitles on Image use the correct expressionistic style as per the 1920 release. from what I recall, Kino's are the 'normalised' printed intertitles from 1923.
(3) The Kino version has possibly the most insensitive layer transition location I have ever come across. For reasons of their own Kino put an intertitle before the final sequence in the asylum, and it would have been a natural place for a layer transition. Instead they put it a few seconds into the final sequence (and only a couple of minutes before the end of the film!). Image has no layer transition.
(4) Both scores on the Kino version are dreadful. One consists of strange electronic noises, while the 'orchestral' one is pretty inappropriate. Instead Image chose a very nice specially composed score by Timothy Brock which is a remarkably effective pastiche in the style of Alban Berg (very appropriate for an expressionist film).
(5) Image has a commentary track; it's not clear that Kino does (I can't remember, but certainly it isn't mentioned in the blurb on the back).Read more ›
REVIEW REVISED NOV-18-2014
I'm lumping several editions of this film in a single review so it would appear on all Amazon product pages of this film. The editions I'm reviewing are:
2014 Kino Region-A Blu-ray (ASIN: B00N5ND6PU) and Region-1 DVD (ASIN: B00N5ND88U)
2014 Eureka Region-B Blu-ray/DVD combo (Amazon UK ASIN: B00KT67Q0W)
2002 Kino all-region NTSC DVD (ASIN: B00006JMQG)
1997 Image all-region NTSC DVD (ASIN: 6305075492)
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a visually stunning German silent film that tells the story of a mad doctor who trains a sleepwalker to commit evil deeds. It was a groundbreaking film in many ways, such as its use of an unreliable narrator as a framing device, and its expressionistic images resembling one's nightmare (or the mind state of a mentally-ill person) -- distorted views, deformed spaces, bizarre lights and shadows. This film, in 1920, ushered in a new era of German Expressionism on film, a period that produced such classics as The Last Laugh, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and others.
There have been many public domain copies of "Caligari" sold in stores and online, or available free to view online. Many of them use plain, static intertitles and have running times as short as 51 minutes. The only versions worth seeing are the four I'm reviewing here due to their completeness of footage used (with running time over 70 minutes), the use of stylized intertitles, and, of course, improved picture quality.
Currently, the best edition for North America is the 2014 Region-A Blu-ray from Kino (ASIN: B00N5ND6PU). A corresponding Region-B Blu-ray is also available from Eureka for European customers (Amazon UK ASIN: B00KT67Q0W).Read more ›
Having said that , my review is of the KINO dvd release , a very fine one as this company does not distribute anything less(you pay more, but if you know anything about silent and classic movies it will be no secret to you that if you pay peanuts that is exactly what you will get....)...it is however disconserting to see that even the best available dvd release still hasn't been cleaned up to the degree that other classic silent masterpieces have..surely with todays technology a digital "hoovering" of this film is not too much to ask.
Wonderful film of course, but you know that otherwise you wouldn't even be reading these reviews, and the KINO version is , so far, the best you can get for your money.
Despite some raves about the Kino version (which I can't really understand), the Image version wins hands down. Kino, which normally puts out a superior product whatever movie they are releasing, I believe really dropped the ball with this one. For one, they went totally overboard with tinting...most scenes now appear to be a deep, dark blue, and the black areas have a weird, mottled, speckley, "wavy" look, like TV reception that isn't quite coming in. Granted, this is mostly only really bad during the first reel, in the opening garden scene, improving slightly as the film goes on, but it's still annoying.
The Image disc, by comparision, is brightly lit, scenes being either a "regular" grey like you see on the usual b/w silent film, or an amberish tint that still shows up fine. The entire Kino version just seems too dark & murky. The intertitles of both are in that funky, abstract font, but each has slightly different wording for the same scenes (and I don't know which is actually more accurate to the original, but both convey basically the same information). For example, one may say "Listen while I tell you a story" while the other says "I will now tell you a story" (I made both those up, but it was to get the idea across!). However, the intertitles on the Kino version are, again, much darker than the Image disc. Also, the Image print in general just seems much sharper & clearer than the Kino, and the musical score is much better & more fitting.Read more ›
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