Font Size

I learned, researching THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919) that when this motion picture premiered in New York it was presented with a score comprised of music by the ultra modernists including Stravinsky.

We find Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING quoted in many motion picture scores. Composers are usually given little time to conjure up their scores. They use what is art hand.

I wondered what it would be like to experience this great picture the shock of which’s waves are still reverberating in our culture.

People who present silent films said, “We tried it. It didn’t work.”

Always remember that just because others could not get something to work does not mean we can’t.

When I create scores for silent films I think primarily of the young man or woman who, like myself at their age, read about this film and wants to see it.

Chances of seeing it today are abundant. That’s part of the problem.

Any musician can perform music written by great composers.

How many of them bring that music to life?

As a youth in Chipman and Minto, New Brunswick when, through Forrest J Ackerman and James Warren’s wonderful magazine FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, I first read about THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI the managers of the cinemas (each town had one) looked at me like  I was a one kid communist plot to put them out of business when I asked them to show it.

One of my dreams is to show these pictures there. Is there an audience for them? I don’t know and, frankly, don’t care.

It would be fun to do.

I want that young man or woman who today is like myself at their age to witness a presentation that not only fulfills their expectations but more importantly surpasses them.

I don’t much care for most film buffs. They are like church goers. They are in church every Sunday but they never listen.

I want the kid who says, “Impress me.”


Because when that kid is impressed magic happens.

A film teacher wanted to use my copy of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI without the music I created for it.

I said, “You want my copy use my score.”

“What did you think of the music?” the class was asked after.

The reply?

The class did not like it because the music made the film scary.

The teacher said, as if what I had done was a fault, “Yes, it made the film scary.”

I refrained from saying, “That is what it is supposed to do.”

When this film premiered in Berlin in 1919 it tanked.

The producers withdrew it.

A few months later they presented it again with music that made the film scary.

It was a great success.

So don’t come to see this if you are afraid of being scared.

My job with a film like this is to give you nightmares.

ddp_8.87325569/ THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, (aka THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI, aka DAS CABINET DES DR. CALIGARI), 1920 Filmstill // HANDOUT / EDITORIAL USE ONLY! Please note: Fees charged by the agency are for the agency?s services only, and do not, nor are they intended to, convey to the user any ownership of Copyright or License in the material. The agency does not claim any ownership including but not limited to Copyright or License in the attached material. By publishing this material you expressly agree to indemnify and to hold the agency and its directors, shareholders and employees harmless from any loss, claims, damages, demands, expenses (including legal fees), or any causes of action or allegation against the agency arising out of or connected in any way with publication of the material.

–Reg Hartt




« »