OPINION

October 22, 1959

WERNER KRAUSS: London – The actor Werner Krauss, who was a leading light in German theater for about half a century and perhaps its most controversial personality in the last few stormy years of his life, has died in Vienna after a long illness at the age of 75. After the end of the First World War and during a period of violent changes and experimentation in German theater, Krauss earned a reputation as an excellent actor with strong performances in main roles in the classical repertory. However, many different influences, such as the new expressionist theater, post-revolutionary Russian theater and the growth of the German film industry, transformed Krauss from simply a good actor into one who gave the impression of being possessed. Krauss felt he was the incarnation of the deepest essence of Germany, a giant that had been defeated but could not be destroyed. He was later identified with Nazi mythology in the classic revivals and the films of Joseph Goebbels. Krauss turned his attention to cinema during the first, silent period. His most unforgettable film performance – particularly for serious students of cinema history – was in «The Cabinet of Dr Caligari,» filmed in 1920, an expressionist study of madness, with Krauss in the role of the crazed doctor.