Hugely influential psychological thriller introduced German Expressionism in the cinema with major ramifications for horror, film noir, and even modern Tim Burton movies. This surrealistic 75-minute shocker begs for frame by frame dissection to uncover revelations about set design, silent movie acting, make-up, political allegory, and more. The images are iconic and unsettling: a stabbing shown as shadows on a wall; the interplay of light and shadow on an angular, distorted landscape; a somnambulist who rises from his coffin-like sleeping box to commit murders; a mad doctor who morphs into the director of an insane asylum, then becomes a patient in his own asylum, then becomes the director again as he treats the patient whose delusions comprise this twisted story. The DVD from Kino International features a print restored to its original color tinting with splashy graphic intertitles that mesh perfectly with the macabre mise-en-scène.
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October 9, 2017
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