The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Film Review

Posted: November 14, 2014 in Horrendous Horror Movies
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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, directed by Robert Weine, contained two chilling characters. Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), the top-hatted murderer, with his large spectacles and bulging eyes, frightened me. And Cesare (Conrad Veidt), the somnambulist, terrified me, too; he looked like a possessed mime.

Dr. Caligari creeps me out!


For those characters alone, I commend The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

It all starts when Francis (Friedrich Feher) begins telling a story to a man he met in the garden; the story revolves around himself, his friend, Alan, and his fiancée, Jane.

Francis and Alan, a Matt Smith look-alike, venture to the fair, where they encounter the evil Dr. Caligari and Cesare. Alan asks Cesare, who can predict the future, when he will die, and Cesare replies, “At first dawn!” (SPOILER) The next morning, Alan is dead, and Francis suspects Cesare.

Soon, Cesare is ordered to kill again. His victim? Jane. But because Cesare becomes so entranced by Jane’s beauty, he can’t bring himself to murder her; instead, he kidnaps her. (He does, though, drop her when villagers form an angry mob and begin to chase him.)

And, during this time, guess where Dr. Caligari sneaks away to? The psychiatric hospital, where Francis learns Dr. Caligari is the director, the man in charge. But after numerous journal entries are found, detailing his descent into madness, Dr. Caligari is placed into a straitjacket and locked away forever.

Or was he?

The twist ending was fantastic, and I commend the director because it truly messed with my brain. (I am still trying to sort it all out while I write this review.)

Oh, and I loved the scene that showcases Dr. Caligari spiraling into madness. The man, lost and confused, wanders about a forest as “Du musst Caligari werden” flashes across the screen. This scene brilliantly captured insanity, especially when Dr. Caligari tries to touch the words.

And, like other reviews have mentioned, the art style is phenomenally creepy. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari happened during the German Expressionist movement, where designs were painted on the floors and walls to represent shadows and objects.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was a creepy silent film, and I would recommend it to people who enjoy the German Expressionist movement, artistic films, or twist endings.

To watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, click here


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