Possessed: Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema

By Stefan Andriopoulos; Peter Jansen | Go to book overview

V BERNHEIM, CALIGARI, MABUSE: CINEMA AND HYPNOTISM

Stunning, too, the manner in which Mabuse’s hypnotizing gaze forces not
only his victims but also the audience under its power.
Eugen Tannenbaum,
Berliner Zeitung am Mittag, March 28,1922

In February 1920, numerous posters appeared throughout Berlin, addressing the city dwellers with the forceful exhortation: “You must become Caligari” (Du musst Cdligari werden). The enigmatic slogan, also printed in several newspapers, was soon revealed to be part of an innovative advertising campaign for a new film. The movie, directed by Robert Wiene, was just completing the last stages of production at the Decla Company, and immediately after its release, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was acclaimed a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema; its plot, unknown to the public at that time, centered on a showman and hypnotist who forces a somnambulist to submit to his will, compelling the docile medium to commit several murders.

Yet on the posters and in the newspaper ads, no mention was made of the film’s title, plot, or even the fact that the campaign was meant to advertise a film. Instead, only a hypnotic vortex-like spiral and a note with the date and place of the opening night accompanied the mysterious command that called for each passerby to transform him- or herself into Caligari. The almost coercive interpellation “You must” foregrounded and simultaneously enacted the “suggestive” or “hypnotic” power of advertising, which was still a fairly new mode of shaping social behavior.

-91-

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Possessed: Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • I- Tales of Hypnotic Crime 19
  • II- Invisible Corporate Bodies 42
  • III- - Staging the Hypnotic Crime 66
  • IV- Bernheim, Caligari, Mabuse- Cinema and Hypnotism 91
  • V- Human and Corporate Bodies in Broch and Kafka 128
  • Epilogue 157
  • Appendix A- Filmography 163
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 203
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