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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (original title)
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Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director:

Robert Wiene
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

None

Release Date:

19 March 1921 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer Hans Janowitz wrote the female lead character for his girlfriend Gilda Langer, an actress at the "Residenz-Theater" in Berlin, but it was Lil Dagover who finally got the role. See more »

Goofs

The entry in the book "Im jahre 1703 ..." is translated in subtitles (on the blu-ray edition) as "In the year 1783,...". 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 »

Alternate Versions

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 is colour-tinted, 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 Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Through the distorting lens of the humankind's feeble grip on sanity
19 September 2006 | by Asa_Nisi_Masa2See 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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