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The Future Is Noir

The Future Is Noir

Scenography for the darkness with the uncertain future. Architecture of fear in the cinema of 1920s.

Considered the quintessential work of German expressionist cinema, the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) by Robert Wiene tells the story of an insane hypnotist who uses a brainwashed somnambulist to commit murders. 

The film thematizes brutal and irrational authority. Caligari can be representing the German war government, with the symbolic of the common man conditioned to kill. The film include the destabilized contrast between the subjective perception of reality, and the duality of human nature.

An unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula in film is the German version of Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) by F. W. Murnau. Nosferatu is an archaic Romanian word Nesuferitu` meaning the offensive or the insufferable one. The movie is actually about the First World War and the plague is a metaphor for the mass death and destruction of the war.

Nosferatu was banned in Sweden due to excessive horror until 1972. All known prints and negatives were destroyed under the terms of settlement of a lawsuit by Bram Stoker's widow.

Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (1927) is an experimental documentary by Walther Ruttmann. It begins with a drive of a high-speed train pulled by a steam locomotive through meadows, arbor and residential areas into the city and thus delimits the surrounding area from the big city. 

The train arrives at Anhalter Bahnhof near the city center, where streets empty in the morning are filling up with people on their way to work. The rhythm of the city is getting faster and faster. With the 12 o'clock bell strike, the speed collapses. After lunch break and food intake, however, it begins to accelerate again in the afternoon.

Cabiria (1914), an Italian epic silent film by Giovanni Pastrone, was shot in Turin. The film is set in ancient Sicily, Carthage, and Cirta during the period of the Second Punic War (218–202 BC). 

It follows a melodramatic main plot about an abducted little girl, Cabiria, and features an eruption of Mount Etna, heinous religious rituals in Carthage, the alpine trek of Hannibal, Archimedes' defeat of the Roman fleet at the Siege of Syracuse and Scipio maneuvering in North Africa. 

One the most influential films in cinema history, Dziga Vertov's exhilarating ode to Bolshevik Russia the Man with a Movie Camera (1929). It is a visual argument for the place of the documentary filmmaker as a worker, educator, and eyewitness in a proletariat society. The film is an impressionistic view of urban daily life, seen from a purely cinematic perspective.