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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (original title)
Unrated | | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery | 19 March 1921 (USA)
Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

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Cast

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

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 {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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19 March 1921 (USA)  »

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  »

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$18,000 (estimated)
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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Erich Pommer wanted to have Fritz Lang as the film's director. Lang was interested, but then decided to work on another film, Die Spinnen, 1. Teil - Der Goldene See (1919). See more »

Goofs

In the distant shot, the sign at the asylum reads "Insane Asylum," in English. In the close-up, the sigh is written in German (Kino Blu-ray Disc version, may not be present in all editions of the film). See more »

Quotes

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

Featured in Creep Creepersin's Frankenstein (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

A Masterpiece of German Expressionism
1 April 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Made in 1919, "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari" was literally years ahead of its time and remains a triumphant accomplishment in the genre of German Expressionism. Remembered mainly for its stunning sets, which featured crooked buildings and twisted landscapes, "Cabinet" also boasts one of the first attempts at a twist ending, something quite new and shocking for its time.

Told mainly from the point of view of Francis, a young man who lives in the small village of Holstenwall, Germany, "Cabinet" tells the tale of murder and madness which seems to accompany the arrival of a carnival. Francis and his best friend Alan go to the carnival and are presented with the sideshow attraction Cesare the Somnambulist, a gaunt and hideous young man who spends his life sleeping in a coffin-like cabinet and seems able to predict the future when awake. Cesare (played by a young Conrad Veidt, who later went on to play the evil Nazi general in Casablanca) informs Alan that he will soon die, and indeed, Alan is found murdered the next morning. Suspicion turns to the eerie somnambulist and his strange keeper, a man called Caligari. As Francis desperately tries to solve the mystery and find his friends killer, it seems that the beautiful young Jane, beloved by both Alan and Francis, has been targeted as the next victim.

This is a genuinely creepy film which delves deep into the mysteries of the abnormal mind...an uncomfortable journey to say the least. Everyone is suspect and, in the end, we must ask ourselves: "who is really the mad one here?"

Subtle and ingenious, we see the world the way an insane person might see it; warped and confused, a nightmarish terrain where nothing makes sense and balance is not to be found.

The impact of this film is still being felt and seen today, and for good reason. It is a shocking, disturbing masterpiece. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


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