The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

A Tim Burton ancestor: the hugable somnambulist

Article: A Tim Burton ancestor: the hugable somnambulist

As part of the Tim Burton show at the MOMA (showing through April 26th), they are exhibiting a series of films called “Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters.” These are films that according to the MOMA staff have “… influenced, inspired, and intrigued Burton, and which reflect the motifs, themes, and sensibilities of his work.” Just scanning the list of monsters, mummies and evil villains, one of them caught my eye. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, a landmark German Expressionist film directed by Robert Wiene in 1920. One of my favorite early films, it’s a visual journey into a bold and hyper non-realistic world, with geometrical and striking high contrast sets. The backgrounds are often absurd and light and shadows are painted on walls and floors. It’s as if we’ve stepped into an insane but brilliant artist’s point of view. No wonder Burton was inspired by this film.