The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 silent horror/thriller out of Germany’s Weimar era. A young man reminisces about how he met his fiancé and their encounter with a somnambulist, sleepwalker. The mystery that unfolds is loaded with bizarre set designs, heavy handed makeup, creative editing, and murder. The German Expressionist style of the film can be seen through the unconventional and distorted set design and intertitles. It is clear to see how this style of film making impacted filmmakers, like Tim Burton, decades later (i.e. Beetlejuice, Batman, etc…).

Cailigari successfully executes a spooky thriller type story, that has just enough twists and mystery to hold up to this day. The story line, set design, acting, intertitling, special effects, all work so well together. I am not sure who the editor was on this film, perhaps it was Director Robert Wiene, but it is incredibly well done.

I haven’t watched a lot of films of the time. Although, it is interesting to see a filmmaker take a story and capture the mystery and fanaticism and translate it to film, especially given the time period. The way that story-lines interweave and reality comes into question seems novel for the time. The ability to setup and navigate a dream sequence for the audience is impressive. It is apparent that the competency of the viewer grew quickly in the eyes of the early filmmakers.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Directed by: Robert Wiene

Cinematography: Willy Hameister

Written by: Carl Mayer & Hans Janowitz

Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, & Lil Dagover

Runtime: 1h 7m

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Mystery

Distributed by: Decla-Bioscop

See the film link below.

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