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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
"Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Horror, Mystery  |  19 March 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 35,189 users  
Reviews: 179 user | 151 critic

Dr. Caligari's somnambulist, Cesare, and his deadly predictions.



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Complete credited cast:
Friedrich Feher ...
Francis (as Friedrich Fehér)
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ...
Alan (as Hans Heinrich v. Twardowski)
Rudolf Lettinger ...


Francis, a young man, recalls in his memory the horrible experiences he and his fiancée Jane recently went through. It is the annual fair in Holstenwall. Francis and his friend Alan visit The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an exhibit where the mysterious doctor shows the somnambulist Cesare, and awakens him for some moments from his death-like sleep. When Alan asks Cesare about his future, Cesare answers that he will die before dawn. The next morning Alan is found dead. Francis suspects Cesare of being the murderer, and starts spying on him and Dr. Caligari. The following night Cesare is going to stab Jane in her bed, but softens when he sees the beautiful woman, and instead of committing another murder, he abducts her. Jane's father awakens because of the noise, and he and some servants follow the fleeing Cesare. When Cesare cannot outrun his pursuers anymore, he gently places Jane down on the ground, and runs away. Francis and the police investigate the caravan of Dr. Caligari, but the ... Written by Maths Jesperson {}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most amazing story ever screened. See more »


Horror | Mystery


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 March 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  »

Box Office


$18,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Widely considered to be the first true horror film ever made. See more »


There is an inconsistent positioning during the struggle on the bed between Cesare and Jane. See more »


[first lines]
Man in garden: Spirits surround us on every side... they have driven me from hearth and home, from wife and child.
See more »


Referenced in The Last Revenge (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Through the distorting lens of the humankind's feeble grip on sanity
19 September 2006 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

Having only started discovering silent movies recently, I don't have more than a handful of other non-talkies to compare it to. This however was not only one of the best, most compelling and unique silents I have seen, but also a great flick overall. It's all been said before, I'm sure, but I'll say it again: this is a milestone of German Expressionist cinema. It is also a class-A mind-phuck movie (excuse my French), one of those stories that'll leave you eternally scratching your head trying to figure out what you've seen, what to believe and what can be a plausible explanation for most of the creepy mysteries you've just witnessed. Right from the very opening scene, seemingly suspended in an otherworldly dimension, maybe somewhere in between life and death, in which the first line spoken is: "There are spirits everywhere", you realise you are in for a spooky ride (this is the ultimate Halloween movie, come to think of it!) Having studied theatre set and costume design at Rome's art school for a year before going to university, I was obviously completely fascinated by the set design choices here. Buildings and furniture, props and painted backdrops are elongated and deformed into blocky, savage, expressionistic, perspective-defying and proportion-less forms. Even the intertitles weren't of the traditional sort. The result is obviously one of unsettling the viewer further into believing themselves suspended in a reality where anything could happen - anything horrible or nightmarish, obviously. Nothing is as it seems, right to the very end. Btw, on a more frivolous note, I thought the character of Cesare the Somnambulist looked uncannily like something that might have influenced Tim Burton into creating Edward Scissorhands, or maybe even more, the look of some of the characters in Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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