German Expressionism Collection [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Geheimnisse einer Seele
With a brilliant tip of the hat to Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, German filmmaker G.W. Pabst offers Secrets of a Soul, a convoluted tale of a chemistry professor (Caligari's Werner Krauss) haunted by inexplicable resentments. The professor doesn't really dislike his wife's cousin, who is returning after several years in India: why, then do thoughts of murder keep entering his head? The dream sequences--to which Pabst gave credence by hiring two of Freud's assistants as consultants--elaborate upon existing Freudian symbolism to the bursting point. Pabst had always been fascinated by the subconscious; here he seems intoxicated by the subject. Especially effective is Pabst's use of multiple dissolves and superimpositions, all accomplished "in the camera" without any post-production lab work. Originally titled Geheimnisse einer Seele. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
In one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari's visit. When the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed seems to be the outgrowth of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover). Francis suspects Caligari, but he is ignored by the police. Investigating on his own, Francis seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders, but the story eventually takes a more surprising direction. Caligari's Expressionist style ultimately led to the dark shadows and sharp angles of the film noir urban crime dramas of the 1940s, many of which were directed by such German émigrés as Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Schatten
A jealous husband becomes enraged with his dinner guests when they pretend to kiss the silhouetted shadow of his beautiful wife. Fritz Kortner, Ruth Weyher, Gustav Von Wagenheim, and Alexander Granach co-star in this German feature where a seemingly innocent romantic indiscretion is met with violent retribution. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

Orlacs Hände
In this classic horror film, based on a novel by Maurice Renard and filmed by Robert Wiene (of Dr. Caligari fame), a world-famous pianist burns his hands in an airplane crash. A mysterious doctor offers to do a transplant and the pianist, his career on the verge of ruin, accepts. After a series of mysterious strangulations occur around him, the pianist beings to suspect the culprit might be his new pair of hands. His search for the donor is impeded as his new appendages slowly drive him insane. This film has been remade countless times, the most successful being the 1954 Mad Love version with Peter Lorre in the lead. ~ Brian Whitener, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Werner Krauss - Martin Feliman
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    Ruth Weyher - His wife
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    Pavel Pavlov - Dr. Charles Orth
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    Renata Brausewetter - Dienstmaedchen
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    Ilka Gruning - The mother
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