Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
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FAQ for
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) More at IMDbPro »Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari can be found here.

No. It is based on a screenplay by German author Hans Janowitz [1890-1954] and Austrian screenwriter Carl Mayer [1894-1944]. The idea for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari came at a fair where they saw a sideshow in which a man did feats of strength and forecast the future while supposedly in a hypnotic trance. To this, they added Janowitz's memory of glimpsing a stranger disappearing into the shadows after mysteriously emerging from the bushes in a park. The next morning, a woman's body was found there.

No. The name "Caligari" came from a fictional officer named Caligari in a book Mayer had read.

White Zombie (1932) is generally credited with being the first zombie movie. However, some viewers of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari have argued that Cesare [Conrad Veidt] might actually qualify as a zombie because of his lack of physical or mental control over his body. Those who argue against it point out that Cesare was a somnabulist (sleepwalker), not a corpse reanimated by supernatural means. They further point out that the word "zombie" did not exist outside of Haiti until 1929. Therefore, they feel that White Zombie is the first zombie film in name, definition, and action of character. Those who argue for it counter that a zombie doesn't necessarily have to be a reanimated corpse. They point out that, in some Haitian practices, "zombie drugs" are fed to an individual, causing him to fall into a deathlike state during which his will is subject to that of his bokor (Voodoo sorcerer). For more information on this type of zombie state, see here.

A term often applied to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to describe its movie genre is "Expressionism". Basically, expressionism merely refers to the artistic distortion of reality, almost like a waking dream or nightmare, usually with a serious, angst-laden quality to it. With respect to the cinema arts, the term is most often applied to certain German films from the early 20th century. There is considerable debate as to which films, including this one, can be called Expressionist or whether there was ever an actual Expressionist movement in filmdom in the first place.

Viewers who have seen The Cabinet of Dr Caligari generally agree that the early German films most like it include many of the movies by German director Fritz Lang [1890-1976]. Try Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922), Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924), Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (1924), Metropolis (1927), M (1931), and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933). Also strongly recommended are F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), Der brennende Acker (1922), Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926), and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927). Also of note are Der Golem (1927), Die Büchse der Pandora (1929), Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1924), and Vampyr (1932). Not German, but creepy nevertheless is the Danish Häxan (1922).


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