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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (original title)
Not Rated | | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery | 19 March 1921 (USA)
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1:58 | Trailer

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Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director:

Robert Wiene
Reviews
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 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:

The most amazing story ever screened. 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

Sets were constructed for less than $800 and the leading actors were paid $30 a day. 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.
See more »

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 The Harmonists (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Expressionism At Its Finest
6 July 2004 | by FlickeringLightSee 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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