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TSFF Preview: Variety (1925)

variety-e.a. dupont-toronto silent film festival

Grab your socks ladies and gentlemen, because the 2012 Toronto Silent Film Festival closes with the box office smash of 1925, E.A. Dupont‘s Variety. A masterpiece of German expressionism starring Emil Jannings (because what masterpiece of German expressionism doesn’t star Emil Jannings?), Variety is famous for “the swinging camerman.” This is a rarely screened silent era gem, so be sure to catch it this go round.

As a matter of fact, Variety is so rarely screened that I’ve never seen it. I could recapitulate a synopsis but I won’t. Suffice it say, there’s acrobats, murder, sex, Emil Jannings, and a camera man on a trapeze. ‘Nuff said. This is the movie to come out for (though you should totally come out for all of them) and to miss it would be a tragedy.

Okay, okay… a little teaser. To wet your whistle, here’s a video essay on Variety with commentary by Kristin Thompson, author of The Frodo Franchise and co-author of Film Art: An Introduction and Film History: An Introduction.

Satisfied? Now go secure your tickets from Toronto Film Festival right now!

Screening Details:


Musical Interpretation: Laura Silberberg

Tuesday April 3, 2012
8pm (doors open 7:30pm)
Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Ave Toronto
Tickets $15.00

Plus: “Animation from the Lawless Days” The Cameraman’s Revenge 1912 Ladislaw Starewicz

The Force That Through the Green Fire Fuels The Flower 2011 directed by Otto Kylmälä UK/Finland

The Toronto Silent Film Festival Program

March 29 – Our Dancing Daughters

March 30 – Tabu: A Tale of the South Seas

March 31: Blood and Sand

April 1: 1000 LAFFS: Playmates

April 2: The Italian Straw Hat

More Thoughts on The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari

Here’s some more interesting notes on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, from Jon Sebastien is maybe a little too harsh on American filmmakers of 1920 (no deeper than a puddle?), but he more distinctly draws the direct line to from Caligari to Tim Burton, specifically Edward Scissorhands.

Watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Online

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is available for viewing all over the interwebs.

Watch at the Internet Archive or download for repeated viewings.

Watch on YouTube:


Show Don’t Tell: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the gold standard example of early German expressionism in film, is just plain weird. Today we call it a “horror” film, but it’s not scary. It is disorienting and certainly creepy, but you won’t jump in your seat while viewing it. But if you care about the genre known as “horror,” then you have to confront Caligari. If you care about film history in general, about “film noir” in particular, or Post WWI German politics, you have to care about Caligari. Wait, what?

Ladies and gentleman, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is INFLUENTIAL. Often, this weird little movie is lost in the cacophony of critical extrapolation, exegesis, and anagogy. This point was recently hammered home to me when I had the opportunity to view Caligari, in a theater with live musical accompaniment. This is silent movie heaven to me. My long suffering SO, who frankly does not love silent movies and doesn’t give a rat’s about how any individual film is important, came along. As we left the theater after the screening, he turns to me and says, “Oh, that was terrible!” My response, to offer multiple ways in which Caligari is important, forced me to step back and examine my assumptions about the film. Read the rest of this entry

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