Horror Movie Review The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari

Preston, England
October 21, 2017 10:56am CST
1919/1920 Spoiler alerts This silent movie classic still stands up as a genuinely creepy viewing experience almost a hundred years after it was made. It is a movie of innovative first. Much that you see here looks familiar because later films borrow so much from this one. It was the first movie to use colourized tinting (hand drawn in frame by frame), the first to address mental health issues, the first to use narration flashbacks, the first to have a twist ending, and in fact multiple twists through the narrative, and more besides. The story seems deceptively simple. A young man chats to an older one on a park or garden bench and tells him his own terrible story. The young man lived in a German town that is run by an oppressive regime where the only release comes through a visiting fair. Among the fair’s attractions is the Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari where the sinister manic looking hustler claims to be displaying a unique freak, a man called Caesar, who has been asleep for all of his twenty three years of life. Caesare looks uncannily like Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands as this is where Burton borrowed the look from. Under hypnosis, Caesar awakens and promises to answer any question put to him. The narrator’s best friend asks when he will die. Caesar tells him that he will be dead by the dawn, which understandably frightens the man and his best friend. That night Caesar visits the man whose death he predicted and stabs him to death in his bed. With a police search going on, Caesar tries to kill the narrator’s girlfriend the same way but ends up abducting her instead, but he is spotted and chased. He falls to his death over a cliff unseen by the observers. The investigator’s inspect Caligari’s Cabinet stall and find that the sleeping Caesar is just a mannequin. They realize Caligari is a fraud and somehow implicated in the murder. Everyone chases him, and the villain is seen running to a local insane asylum. Asking there about him, the police and the hero are told to talk to the asylum’s director, only to discover that he is Caligari. Inspecting his papers they find that he is obsessed with a local legend from hundreds of years before about a man called Caligari who used a sleep-walking catatonic patient as an unwitting pawn with who to commit murders and that he has replicated the legend in real life. After pursuit, Caligari is caught and put in a straight-jacket to become a patient in his own asylum. Then, just as it all seems wrapped up, things get really weird. The narrator is seen again talking to the man on the bench in the grounds of the asylum, but now we see that this is where they are both inmates, as is the heroine of the main story, who thinks she is a queen, being adored by her subjects. Caesar is also seen wandering around, another inmate. The only apparently sane figure is Caligari, who seem to be a genuine nice doctor, who feels confident that he can help the narrator. The e design is full of crooked buildings, oddly angled doors, chairs set very high, and trees with tentacle-like branches. The whole design is an abstract interpretation of the story being related. It marks the height of German Expressionism and it is still genuinely scary. Conrad Veldt, who plays Caesar, went on to play the main Nazi villain in Casablanca. The film is available for free download on Youtube Arthur Chappell
Original title: "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" Dr. Caligari's somnambulist, Cesare, and his deadly predictions. IMDb rating: 8.1 Director: Robert Wiene Starr...
5 people like this
5 responses
@JohnRoberts (59867)
• Los Angeles, California
21 Oct
I have seen this extraordinary film which is more visually stunning and weird than anything made today. A good double feature is this with Nosferatu.
4 people like this
• Preston, England
21 Oct
@JohnRoberts Nosferatu is one of my favourites too
2 people like this
@RasmaSandra (18444)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
21 Oct
Thanks for the review. I had heard about this movie but never saw it. I will check it out. There is also a 2005 version from what I see.
2 people like this
• Preston, England
21 Oct
@RasmaSandra not seen the remake
1 person likes this
@RasmaSandra (18444)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
21 Oct
@arthurchappell I want to see both versions. The 2005 one is known as an American independent film.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
21 Oct
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41175)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
23 Oct
I watched a few minutes. I love the soundtrack. I'll have to try to watch more when I get some time.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
23 Oct
@teamfreak16 well worth a viewing
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (109340)
• United States
21 Oct
I have not seen this one, but it certainly is full of things that would frighten me!
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
21 Oct
@Corbin5 it is a genuinely spooky film
1 person likes this
@Kandae11 (38487)
21 Oct
I have never watched a silent movie before. Should be interesting.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
21 Oct
@Kandae11 this is a great one to start with - the score is exceptionally apt too
1 person likes this