2020 is the Centenary anniversary of seminal movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The film is a fine example of German expressionism, often seen as the first horror movie and the first film regarded as high art. It is a popular film that still gets featured at Goth and film festivals to this day and is a must see, particularly for people who enjoyed similar films from the same movement, such as The Golem or Nosferatu. Spanish band Toundra have created a new rock score for the movie and plan to tour; providing a live score with showings of the film across Europe this year.
Toundra are an instrumental progressive rock quartet from Madrid. They have been making a name for themselves in their homeland since their self titled debut album was released in 2008. Toundra have since released a number of albums and have been gaining a loyal dedicated fan-base spreading throughout Europe. This is a brave new step for the band and on the whole it works. The score, like the film is in 6 acts and is designed to be played alongside the movie with the original score muted.
This review contains some mild spoilers of the opening acts but will not contain any major spoilers or content from the closing acts.
After the gentle fluttering intro we hear the thumping drums, keyboards and post rock guitars. It instantly gives the film a very different modern feel. Like the first Act of the movie, it is setting up the tale. The delicate guitar work during the town clerk scenes and intricate melodies match the abstract bizarre sets. It fits so well that the viewer soon forgets they are listening to a very modern score. The driving beats towards the end of Act 1 make for a nice alternative to the original fair / carnival score.
Act 2 starts gently with the police discovering the first murder but then slowly builds up to a rhythmic intensity. The opening up of the cabinet as Cesare awakes is given a new dramatic emotion that works better than the original score. Synths intensify the films gothicness as the next victim is told he has a very short life ahead of him, and the moments with Jane give a lighter note before the charms of night.
The discovery of the second murder and the scenes that follow in Act 3 have a tenseness to them thanks to the intricate melodies and atmospheres created by Toundra’s post rock score that never overplays and allows the tensions and turns of the film to be centre stage. The slow and subtle score during the questioning of a suspect in Act 4 builds up and adds to the menace of Jane seeing Cesare. The score gets louder as he approaches before the frantic chase scene. This does not detract from the movie but rather adds to the horror.
From then onwards the music is mainly slow and steady, and allows the plot changes and twists to fully unfold without distraction.
Notable moments are a dramatic raising of the head in Act 5 and the brooding music to the struggle in Act 6 which then mellows for conversation. Music previously used in the score is reintroduced to a natural conclusion for the Gothic madness of the finale.
Whether or not a post rock score is needed could be up for debate. The score does not improve what is an incredible film but rather gives it a modern, more dramatic feel that leaves for a different viewing experience. If anybody was viewing the film for the first time I think the original score would be best to purely concentrate on the film. However, Toundra have done a good job at making set pieces in the film come alive and add something new to the viewing experience. The audience for this type of score is very niche and it is mainly designed as an accompaniment to the film, so it has no mass market appeal, but when Toundra tour with the album this year it will surely be a very memorable experience for those lucky enough to attend.
TOUNDRA – DAS CABINET DES DR. CALIGARI Tracklisting:
1. Titelsequenz (01:40)
2. Akt I (10:50)
3. Akt II (12:12)
4. Akt III (11:35)
5. Akt IV (11:50)
6. Akt V (14:23)
7. Akt VI (10:04)
Alberto Tocados – Bass, Synths
Alex Pérez – Drums
David Paños “Macón” – Guitar
Esteban Girón – Guitar
The 2020 tour dates where you can watch the film whilst the band plays the score live:
28.02.20, Madrid, Teatros del Canal
06.03.20, Zaragoza, Las Armas
07.03.20, Barcelona, Aribau Multicines
15.03.20, Siegen, Vortex
16.03.20, Hamburg, Knust
17.03.20, Jena, Kassablanca
18.03.20, München, Backstage
20.03.20, Darmstadt, 806qm
21.03.20, Martigny, Caves Du manoir
22.03.20, Stuttgart, Club Zentral
22.03.20, Stuttgart, Club Zentral