“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920) / Z-View

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Director: Robert Wiene

Screenplay:  Carl Mayer, Hans Janowitz

Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt and Lil Dagover.

Tagline: Dr. Caligari and his mysterious slave – the black and white phantom who lives in a cabinet and goes forth in his sleep to do his master’s bidding. the weirdest characters ever seen on the screen and the most daringly different picture ever seen.

The Plot…

Dr. Caligari has brought his strange sideshow to the town carnival.  Caligari places a coffin on stage which he then opens.  Inside is a sleeping man named Cesare.  Dr. Caligari speaks a command and Cesare awakens to take questions from the audience.  A man asks, “How long shall I live?”  To everyone’s surprise Cesare says the man will be dead before dawn.

The next morning the man is found murdered in his bed.  This is the second murder since Caligari came to the small town.  Is Cesare the murderer?  Caligari?  Or is something more sinister at play?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is considered by many to be the first horror film.  

The sets and cinematography are amazing especially considering the film was made in 1920.  All of the sets are given odd angles and perspectives which contributes to a feeling of unease.  Buildings are interconnected with tilting walls, strange shadows and alleys that create odd intersections.  Plus The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari features a great twist ending.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) rates 5 of 5 stars.