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also known as Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari1920

  • 4.5
The most brilliant example of that dark and twisted film movement known as German expressionism, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is a plunge into the mind of insanity that severs all ties with the rational world. Director Robert Wiene and a team of designers crafted a nightmare realm in which light, shadow and substance are abstracted, a world in which a demented doctor and a carnival sleepwalker perpetuate a series of murders in a small community.

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"A one-of-a-kind masterpiece." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader


2 members like this review

Dreamlike horror classic. One of the first German Expressionist films and still among the movement's freakiest specimens. Among surreal painted scenery and bizarre storybook sets, a young man investigates a series of murders that he believes creepy old Dr. Caligari committed via a psychic somnambulist whom he exploits in a carnival act. To director Robert Wiene, this was a horror film about insanity. To writers Hanz Janowitz and Carl Meyer, two World War I veterans turned pacifist, it was conceived as a metaphor for how governments send their military out to kill. To audiences and critics at the time, it was a sensation. No one had ever seen anything like it. The pace is slow by modern standards, but this can get under your skin if you're in the mood. It's weird and creepy right from its first minute and it only gets further out from there.

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Member Reviews (16)

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top reviewer

Dreamlike horror classic. One of the first German Expressionist films and still among the movement's freakiest specimens. Among surreal painted scenery and bizarre storybook sets, a young man investigates a series of murders that he believes creepy old Dr. Caligari committed via a psychic somnambulist whom he exploits in a carnival act. To director Robert Wiene, this was a horror film about insanity. To writers Hanz Janowitz and Carl Meyer, two World War I veterans turned pacifist, it was conceived as a metaphor for how governments send their military out to kill. To audiences and critics at the time, it was a sensation. No one had ever seen anything like it. The pace is slow by modern standards, but this can get under your skin if you're in the mood. It's weird and creepy right from its first minute and it only gets further out from there.

2 members like this review
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I liked this much better than Nosferatu!

2 members like this review
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I love this, what a classic. The set design and makeup is a great throwback also. Well worth viewing.

1 member likes this review

I always though Silent Horror couldn't get better than Nosferatu. Boy, was I wrong. This is pretty much a perfect film and the start of long form gothic horror was we know it. From the obvious influence on Tim Burton's career to the major directing influences it has had on pretty much anybody else the past century, Caligari more than holds up as not just an important film in cinema history, but as still a great piece of art even by today's standards.

1 member likes this review

A great surprise ending and extremely well done and ahead of its time - not to mention the fantastic quality of the print!

1 member likes this review

The storyline really pulled through right at the end. I was really enjoying the sets and acting but was slightly disappointed with the storyline until act 6. That really put a twist on it that was (I think) unheard of for its time.

1 member likes this review

One of the true classics of the silent era. This film would be a good choice for a modern remake.

1 member likes this review
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Some cinematographers are masters of light. They can basically paint the frame with illumination and shadows. That’s one approach. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari takes another approach. At first glance it looks like the scenes are painted with light, but actually they’re just painted with, well, paint. Over 80% of the budget for this silent German film went into set decoration. That was money well spent. The images are created with the simplest of materials, but their effect is paranoia inducing. If you like Tim Burton or Alex Proyas, you can thank this film for its influences on them.

Loved the creative set design, makeup and storyline! Learned the word, Somnambulist (sleepwalker).

It was a sensation in it's day with all aspects...plot, sets, direction, acting...there are so many subsequent filmmakers whose influence you can see from here. On the list of the most provocative films ever made.

great acting, scenery and makeup

Great sets, engaging tale. Excellent silent black and white mystery fun!

Phenomenal! Did not expect the ending. Bravo, Robert Wiene!

Wow. What a great movie. I loved the soundtrack too.

I love the tinting and color tones!

This is creative!