BWW Review: THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI Featuring Tom Teasley at Constellation Theatre

Musician Tom Teasley plays a percussive instrumentIt was a dark and stormy night on Friday, an auspicious omen for the opening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at Constellation Theatre. Constellation is showing the classic film with a live score performed by musician Tom Teasley. The film, first released in 1920, is a landmark in cinematic history. is largely considered to be the first true horror film and helped establish the use of unreliable narrators and twist endings (no spoilers here!) in film. That doesn't mean that it's an easy film to watch for today's audience, however. In our current age of bombastic, CGI-filled horror, it's easy to feel disconnected from the silent, German expressionist film. As someone who's never been a film buff or seen a movie with live music before, I was unsure of what to expect from the screening.

I am pleased to report that Tom Teasley has breathed new life into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Teasley's eerie score makes the film feel unpredictably alive and immerses the audience in the tale of the mad doctor and his murderous somnambulist. The live music makes the film feel like a communal experience. The audience on opening night let out gasps as the plot unfolded, a remarkable reaction to a film that is almost 100 years old. If that's not a recommendation for Teasley's work, I don't know what is.

I did find myself wishing that Teasley had incorporated more recognizable themes into his score. While his abstract, haunting music created excellent atmosphere, I wonder how the film would have benefitted from more character- or plot-specific music.

I highly recommend that you catch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at Constellation Theatre before it closes. It's an excellent way to experience a classic and a wonderful way to spend a spooky, stormy evening.

The header image is a still from the film, and features actors Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, and Lil Dagover. Photo credit for the photo of Tom Teasley belongs to Scott Suchman.

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From This Author Hannah Landsberger

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