Caligari is a very specific premonition in the sense that he uses hypnotic power to force his will upon his tool — a technique foreshadowing, in content and purpose, that [73] manipulation of the soul which Hitler was the first to practice on a gigantic scale. Even though, at the time of CALIGARI, the motif of the masterful hypnotizer was not unknown on the screen — it played a prominent role in the American film TRILBY, shown in Berlin during the war — nothing in their environment invited the two authors to feature it. They must have been driven by one of those dark impulses which, stemming from the slowly moving foundations of a people’s life, sometimes engender true visions.

One should expect the pole opposing that of tyranny to be the pole of freedom; for it was doubtless their love of freedom which made Janowitz and Mayer disclose the nature of tyranny. Now this counterpole is the rallying-point of elements pertaining to the fair — the fair with its rows of tents, its confused crowds besieging them, and its diversity of thrilling amusements. Here Francis and Alan happily join the swarm of onlookers; here, on the scene of his triumphs, Dr. Caligari is finally trapped. In their attempts to define the character of a fair, literary sources repeatedly evoke the memory of Babel and Babylon alike. A seventeenth century pamphlet describes the noise typical of a fair as “such a distracted noise that you would think Babel not comparable to it?” and, almost two hundred years later, a young English poet feels enthusiastic about “that Babylon of booths — the Fair.”

The manner in which such Biblical images insert themselves unmistakably characterizes the fair as an enclave of anarchy in the sphere of entertainment. This accounts for its eternal attractiveness. People of all classes and ages enjoy losing themselves in a wilderness of glaring colors and shrill sounds, which is populated with monsters and abounding in bodily sensations — from violent shocks to tastes of incredible sweetness. For adults it is a regression into childhood days, in which games and serious affairs are identical, real and imagined things mingle, and anarchical desires aimlessly test infinite possibilities. By means of this regression the adult escapes a civilization which tends to overgrow and starve out the chaos of instincts — escapes it to restore that chaos upon which civilization nevertheless rests. The fair is not freedom, but anarchy entailing chaos.