New music for a film classic

By Costa Maragos Posted: October 14, 2016 10:30 a.m.

These Regina musicians under the direction of maestro Victor Sawa, will bring to life the classic German Expressionist film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"
These Regina musicians under the direction of maestro Victor Sawa, will bring to life the classic German Expressionist film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" Photo courtesy of Berny Hi

A famous silent horror film returns to the big screen – but with a new twist.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a German Expressionist psychological horror film released in 1920, will feature a new orchestral score.
It’s composed by Jason Cullimore, a PhD doctoral student with the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance (MAP). The musical score will be performed live and in-synch with the movie, October 16 at the Conexus Arts Centre.

The score will come to life thanks to eight musicians, many of whom play with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. The performance will be under the direction of maestro Victor Sawa, former long-time conductor with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

Jason Cullimore
Jason Cullimore (r) with Gerald Saul, associate professor in the Theatre Department and co-organizer of the German Expressionist festival. Rehearsals were held at Knox Metropolitan Church in Regina. Photo by Berny Hi

“I couldn’t be happier with the result,” says Cullimore, following a recent rehearsal. “I'm optimistic that we will be able to stage an excellent and unique performance. The musicians have all really risen to the occasion.”

The movie is part of the campus and city-wide event “The Caligari Project: Festival of German Expressionism” co-organized by some MAP faculty members and others.

The program comprises of an array of events including lectures, theatre, dance, exhibitions, film screenings, puppetry and the marquee event, the symphony performance.
“For the first time in my career I have been given the opportunity to compose a score for a film where none of the original producers of the film – the director, the actors and so forth – are available to comment upon or critique my score,” says Cullimore. “Thus one of the biggest challenges and most exciting aspects of the project for me has been having the freedom to approach the score according to my own vision. This is an unusual situation for film composers, and a great responsibility, especially with such a significant film as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”
Cullimore is an accomplished musician. He won a Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Recording of the Year.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a famous psychological horror silent film released in 1920. The German Expressionist film genre inspired generations of filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton.

He’s been nominated for a Gemini Award for his contributions to a musical score for a Children’s TV series (2030 CE) broadcast on YTV in the early 2000s.

He’s currently studying in the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Studies Program under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Caines (MAP) and Dr. David Gerhard (Computer Science).
Most recently, Cullimore was chosen to represent the University of Regina at the Fall Forum for Emerging Technologies and Technology Showcase in Ottawa in November.

The event is sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

For now, however, the focus for Cullimore is on the upcoming show where he will see his work uniquely come to life.

“I've worked hard to make the score appealing for today's audiences, for whom film and video game scores may be much more familiar than the classical music of the 1920s,” says Cullimore. “At the same time I have drawn inspiration from composers who would have been known to the creators of Caligari. There are the influences of Stravinsky, Debussy, Holst and other significant early 20th-century composers in my score, and I hope the result is music that will move today's audiences while still meshing seamlessly with the strange and compelling world of Dr. Caligari.”

Event:    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari featuring an original score
When:    Sunday, October 16
Time:      7 p.m.
Location: Conexus Arts Centre in Regina
To purchase tickets please visit here