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Waxworks

DVD

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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(Oct 05, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In this rarely seen masterwork of the German Expressionist movement, a trilogy of terror is woven around the wax figures of a carnival show. An idealistic young poet (Wilhelm Dieterle, later to become a Hollywood director) is hired to write stories about the Chamber of Horrors' three most notorious figures: Jack the Ripper (Werner Krauss), Ivan the terrible (Conrad Veidt) and Haroun Al-Raschid (Emil Jannings). But as the uncanny tales flow from the poet's pen, he finds himself enveloped in the nightmare worlds of his own creation. One of the most innovative stylists of the German silent cinema, director Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary, The Man Who Laughs) applied a variety of visual techniques to this ambitious anthology film, drawing from his years as a set designer under the great Max Reinhardt. From the fairy-tale Arabia of the Al-Raschid story (said to have inspired Douglas Fairbanks to make The Thief of Bagdad), to the dark and oppressive kingdom of Ivan the Terrible, to the whirling lights and swordlike shadows of the carnival through which Jack the Ripper stalks the protagonist, Leni managed to raise the techniques of German Expressionism to new conceptual heights.

Amazon.com

Lesser-known among silent German classics, Waxworks is a carnival of a movie inviting you to visit three distinct freak shows and sample the thrills and peculiarities each has to offer. A young poet (Wilhelm Dieterle, who became Hollywood director William Dieterle) is hired to pen "startling tales" about three figures on display in the Wachsfigurenkabinett. Somehow he and his boss's daughter (Olga Belajeff) win plum roles in each fantasia he concocts. The Arabian Nights episode, featuring Emil Jannings hamming it up as Caliph Haroun al-Raschid, boasts demented architecture and a blend of comedy and surrealism that inspired Douglas Fairbanks's Thief of Bagdad. Conrad Veidt, making a memorably mad Russian icon of Ivan the Terrible, towers amid episode 2's fiercely angular compositions. Then, still-unnerving double-exposure cinematography is used to bring "Spring Heel Jack" (Werner Krauss's version of Jack the Ripper) out of the realm of fantasy and menacingly into the real-world framing story. Get your ticket right here. --Richard T. Jameson


Special features

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Product details

  • Actors: Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss, William Dieterle, Olga Belajeff
  • Directors: Leo Birinsky, Paul Leni
  • Writers: Paul Leni, Hans Brennert, Henrik Galeen
  • Producers: Leo Birinsky, Alexander Kwartiroff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: October 5, 2004
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00006JMQI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,085 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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