Masterworks of Expressionism Screenings: Caligari, Waxworks, Faust & Metropolis

Location: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Description: Just in time for Halloween, the Los Angeles Museum of Art screens four classics from the silent era of black-and-white German Expressionistic filmmaking: THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, WAXWORKS, FAUST, and METROPOLIS. Expressionism was an artistic school of thought that attempted to render emotional and subconscious states through the use of exaggerated landscapes and production design that were deliberately artificial; the results worked particularly well in conjunction with fantastic and/or supernatural subject matter. Although these four titles are available on home video, fans of classic horror should make the effort to check them out on the big screen. Think of it as the high-class art-house way to enjoy Halloween in Los Angeles.

Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema Schedule:

Werner Krause and Conrad Veidt in CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
Werner Krause and Conrad Veidt in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI - October 12, 2012 at 7:30pm. This is the film that gave birth to screen expressionism, a strange mystery-horror film in which all the "sets" are actually painted flats adorned with impossible architecture, strange shadows, and bizarre angles. Conrad Veidt stars as the somnambulist Ceasre, ordered by his mesmeric master to kidnap an innocent maiden - an archetypal image repeated endless in horror films for decades afterward.

WAXWORKS - October 12, 2012 at 9:00pm. An anthology film that uses the setting of a waxwork display to tie together three stories, involving the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper.

Faust 1926
Faust (1926)

FAUST - October 13, 2012 at 5:00pm. Although director F.W. Murnau is more well known for the over-rated NOSFERATU, this is by far the superior film - a visually breath-taking adaptation of the famous legend, about a man who sells his soul to the Devil. Impressive visual effects bring the fantasy to vivid life.

The Complete METROPOLIS - October 13, 2012 at 7:30pm. Director Fritz Lang's epic screen extravaganza is technically science-fiction (set in a futuristic city), but its visual ambiance remains rooted in magic: the mad scientist Rotwang comes across more like a sorcerer. The storyline (involving class struggle between the rich who enjoy the luxury of Metropolis, versus the works who toil endlessly in the belly of the beast) is frankly hackneyed and at times absurd, but Lang's visual imagery overwhelms the narrative weakness. The "complete" version reinstates material that was wisely excised (it fills in a few plot holes but magnifies the narrative short-falls)l

The Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema film series is presented in conjunction with an exhibition of artwork (projected sequences, vintage posters, and set stills) from two of the films: Masteworks of Expressionist Cinema: Caligari and Metropolis. which runs from September 22 through March 10, 2013 at LACMA.

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More in this series: 

  1. Masterworks of Expressionism Screenings: Caligari, Waxworks, Faust & Metropolis
  2. Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema: Caligari and Metropolis
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