Robert Wiene  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Robert Wiene (April 27, 1873, BreslauJune 16, 1938, Paris) was an important film director of the German silent cinema best remembered for the canonical art and cult film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and another horror classic Orlacs Hände.

Robert Wiene was born in Breslau, (then in German Silesia, today: Wroclaw, Poland) as a son of a successful theater actor Carl Wiene. His younger brother Conrad became also an actor, but Robert Wiene at first studied law at the University of Berlin. Since 1908 Robert Wiene also started to act, at first in small parts on stage. His first foray into film was in 1912 with his screenplay for Die Waffen der Jugend.

His most memorable feature films are the 1920 horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment - Raskolnikow (1923), both movies had a deep influence on the German cinema of that time.

After Hitler took power in Germany, Robert Wiene left Berlin, first for Budapest where he directed One Night in Venice (1934), later London, and finally to Paris where tried to produce together with Jean Cocteau, a sound remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Wiene died in Paris ten days before the end of production of a spy film, Ultimatum, after having suffered from cancer. The film was finished by Wiene's friend Robert Siodmak.


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