8.1/10
55,790
239 user 163 critic

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (original title)
Trailer
1:32 | Trailer
Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director:

Robert Wiene
Reviews
Popularity
4,856 ( 166)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Werner Krauss ... Dr. Caligari
Conrad Veidt ... Cesare
Friedrich Feher ... Franzis (as Friedrich Fehér)
Lil Dagover ... Jane Olsen
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ... Alan (as Hans Heinz v. Twardowski)
Rudolf Lettinger Rudolf Lettinger ... Dr. Olsen (as Rudolph 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:

Dr. Caligari and his mysterious slave - the black and white phantom who lives in a cabinet and goes forth in his sleep to do his master's bidding. the weirdest characters ever seen on the screen and the most daringly different picture ever seen. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer were introduced in June 1918 and both were penniless. Gilda Langer, an actress with whom Mayer was in love, encouraged Janowitz and Mayer to write a film together. She later became the basis for the Jane character. 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.
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Alternate Versions

USA laserdisc reissue restores the original hand-drawn title cards that have been missing from every known print of the film since 1923. When first released on video in the United States, film was in black-and-white, and played back many scenes at double speed and featured different music. Although no scenes were cut out, the running time was reduced to only 51 minutes. The restored version restores the colour-tinting, restores the original title cards, and plays the film back at regular speed, returning the film to its original 69-minute running time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in United States of Tara: Explosive Diorama (2010) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Masterpiece of German Expressionism
1 April 2004 | by GafkeSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

None | German

Release Date:

27 February 1920 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,811

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,811
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Decla-Bioscop AG See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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