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

 -  Horror  -  19 March 1921 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 30,000 users  
Reviews: 165 user | 127 critic

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Werner Krauss ...
...
Friedrich Feher ...
Francis (as Friedrich Fehér)
...
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ...
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}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You must become Caligari. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

19 March 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  »

Box Office

Budget:

$18,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the May 12, 1921 edition of the Chicago Daily News, Carl Sandburg wrote of the film: "It is a healthy thing for Hollywood, Culver City, Universal City, and all other places where movie film is being produced, that this photoplay has come along at this time. It is sure to have healthy hunches and show new possibilities in style and method to our American Producers." See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

Referenced in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The Secret Serum (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Expressionism At Its Finest
6 July 2004 | by (Boerne, TX) – See all my reviews

The original message of this film is fairly pedestrian (an outcry against the weak authority in Germany at the time), although the political intrigue surrounding the production led to a fascinating framing story which re-established "the authorities," and in turn made the UFA happy enough to distribute the film. This suggests that in its own time the political message of the film was fairly powerful, but compared to the work done in such films as The Golem, Nosferatu, and Metropolis it is not so far-reaching.

What sets this film apart from its contemporaries is its absolute commitment to the expressionist movement. Mutated sets, heavy dark/light makeup, light and shadow, and a Gothic storyline are classic expressionism. The photography is beautiful and so crisp that it creates an eerie sense that this hellish scene is actually the real world, and that our everyday lives are the delusional Technicolor dream of a madman.

While there are many better movies made in this period, I feel that this one is the pinnacle of the imagery that is characteristic of the expressionist art form. It is an absolute must-see for anyone who is interested in the Expressionist movement.


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