The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, 1919)

. Director: Robert Wiene Screenwriters: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer By Roderick Heath Imagine what it must have been like, to be someone who just bought a ticket to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari way back in 1919. Perhaps some ex-soldier just back from the abandoned trenches, curious to see that crazy new film someone …

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The Tiger of Eschnapur (Der Tiger von Eschnapur, 1959) / The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal, 1959)

Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath Fritz Lang returned to make films in Germany after a quarter-century’s absence, after the box office failure of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) finally brought down the curtain on his Hollywood career. Lang had arrived in America as a feted figure wielding great prestige, but he subsisted in marginally …

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Waxworks (Das Wachsfigurenkabinett, 1924) / The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Director: Paul Leni By Roderick Heath Paul Leni’s name might not be as instantly recognisable to movie lovers as his fellows in the legendary days of German "Expressionist" cinema, Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau. Nonetheless, Leni stands with them as one of the major creative figures of that style, of the budding horror film genre, …

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Fährmann Maria (1936) / Strangler of the Swamp (1946)

Director: Frank Wisbar By Roderick Heath Frank Wisbar is today a fairly obscure name in the roll of classic film directors, and yet lovers of horror cinema still remember him for making two of the genre’s finer deep cuts, each film a variation of the same story, made ten years and continents apart. Born in …

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Metropolis (1926)

Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The title resolves amidst intersecting geometries that coalesce and create a cityscape, ranged with neo-Babylonian techno-ziggurats: Metropolis, instantly a statement worthy of Ozymandias. A super-city where trains and cars shuttle along spanning bridges and aircraft buzz between sky-nudging structures. A great machine that explodes and morphs into a dark …

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Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, 1922)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The shadow of Fritz Lang’s early work still falls heavily not just upon many filmmakers, but also upon a swathe of modern pop culture. The remarkable run of movies he made before he was driven to leave Germany by the Nazi ascension helped define, if not originate, a handful …

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Die Nibelungen: Siegfried / Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey Through Adventure Film Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath The ancient Germanic and Scandinavian tales of Siegfried or Sigurd were vital building blocks for much middle and northern European folk culture. This was true long before Richard Wagner conflated them for his delirious, impossibly long, musically ostentatious opera …

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Womb (2010)

Director/Screenwriter: Benedek Fliegauf By Roderick Heath Films that use the ideas of the science fiction genre to genuinely serious investigatory or poetic ends are pretty few and far between in today’s cinema. If they are taking those ideas seriously at all, it’s more likely to be on a conceptual, rather than psychological or emotional plane. …

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

Director/Screenwriter: Rainer Werner Fassbinder By Roderick Heath Among those in the wave of new German cinema to emerge from the mid-1960s and into the ’70s, the most restless, protean, and tragic figure was Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Fassbinder’s relentless pace of work between 1970 and his death in 1982 would have been admired by old studio …

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