The Cabinet of Doctor Caligarii is interesting for two main reasons.
The first would be the shapes. God almighty what notions of how a window's outline looks these Germans managed to come up with! It's worth re-watching this thing through an edge-finding filter just for the god damned shape-play. I really have nothing else to say, it can't be said, I don't know how to say it, go ye and see for yourself.
The second would be... well... let's talk about it.
So, there's a "town clerk", to which the bum has to apply for a fair show permit. I can see the argument for doing it this way, however insufferable this immixtion of authority upon their biologically-given noblesse may be found by various adolescents. What's the bum say ? That he's a bla bla bla, whatever bums called themselves back then, and he wants to show a bla bla bla. What can the clerk say, besides "I guess ?" So he does.
Then the bum sells his show to the folk. Now, the rakes in the audience, the actual city folk with city experience aren't interested. And yet, some people are, fat farmers with their wives, young girls out on the prowl, noobs and marginals. It's exciting! It's interesting! What's the deal offered them ? "Trade this much money, ie, amount of sweat, of grain, of what have you, for nothing palpable at all." It's a scam, fundamentally, all preoccupations of the spirit detract from the city's wealth, which is a solid argument for the clerk to not have admitted the thing in the first place. But whatever, right ?Let people make their own choices.
Yet what choices are they making ? "I would voluntarily give up this slice of bread from my plate to see something I never saw before, something new and wonderous". "Cesare the Somnambulist" is proposed to fit that bill, as it happens, but whatever, right ? If they enjoy it then it was a show ; and if they clap then retroactively Cesare will have been The Somnambulist. It's how this somnambulism thing works (and didn't they pick a great name ?).
Yet how was it a show ? Before it was a show, it was a bum's notion of getting to some bread, wasn't it ? And what did he do ? He put some make-up on a guy, he made up a broken story, but broken specifically in a certain wayii... tried to come up with something people'd make a show out ofiii, right ? He's going to show them something that isn't new, or wonderous, at least not necessarily. Google doesn't show you new things, it shows you things it expects you want to see, right ? And Seinfeld didn't make a billion dollars telling jokes, that's Carlin. Seinfeld made a billion dollars carefully avoiding anything that may conceivably upset anyone. Right ?
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari exposes things about gnoseology, what.———
- 1920 -- that's right, almost one hundred years ago. By Robert Wiene, with Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt. From a time before women were worth putting in films. [↩]
- Why are there spelling errors in spam copy ? Why is the "somnambulist" in a box past a curtain past a gate ? The bum keeps droning on, and then moving on, and the impression in the audience that something's finally happening overwhelming, yet what is actually happening ? Mispackaging, a kind of misdirection, right ? [↩]
- "Nothing happens ?"
"Why is this a show ?!"
"Because it's on TV!"
"Not yet..." [↩]