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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
There have been a number of versions of this film. My original copy was an 8mm one. The is clearly the best. It is not significantly different from other recent releases except it is cleaner, the tints are more interesting and what is especially good is the recreation of the original style of the text for the english titles. The choice of two music tracks is fun and after...
Published on Feb. 20 2003 by Geoffrey Kragen

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars KEEP AWAY!!
This is one of my favorite films of all time, and if must own it (yes, you must own it), DON'T get this edition -- get the Image Entertainment one (the other, more expensive edition). It's worth the extra 10 or so dollars. And let me tell you why:
1. The Image edition has the original film-stock color tinting, an important creative device and a big part of what...
Published on Sept. 14 2002 by Mike Conrado


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Feb. 20 2003
By 
There have been a number of versions of this film. My original copy was an 8mm one. The is clearly the best. It is not significantly different from other recent releases except it is cleaner, the tints are more interesting and what is especially good is the recreation of the original style of the text for the english titles. The choice of two music tracks is fun and after listening to the contemporary one, I switched to the more traditional version. The condensed version of the film Genuine was also of interest.
For those who, like myself, love this classic example of early German silent film I cannot recommend this new release highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine-Quality DVD, Feb. 22 2002
By 
E. Dolnack (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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This DVD is a good quality transfer. The picture is good considering it is from 1920. It is in full-screen, with color-tinting (blue for night scenes, yellow for interior scenes, etc.)
The soundtrack on this version (Image) is great! It is an eerily, serialism-esque score written just for this film. Some silent films have been given a "modern treatment" with contemporary scores, but this DVD is judiciouly been given an appropriately "period-feel" in relation to the time and place that this movie was made. The score fits the film extremely well and is a well crafted work.
The DVD also comes with a commentary soundtrack that teaches the viewer about the film and the time in which it was shot in Germany. There is plenty of explanation about Expressionism as an art form in film, literature, and art of that time. A must for any film student!
I highly reccomend this DVD. It was well worth the price! It's literally amazing that an eighty year old film can still entertain and surprise a completely foreign audience, but some things about human beings are just universal and this film encompasses much that is universal in mankind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good movie, May 8 2001
By 
Brian Williams (Livingston, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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I've never been a huge fan of the silent film era. In fact I never watched silent films until a class a took. This was one of the 12 or so silent films we saw in the class and 1 of only 2 that I really liked.
The set design really sets the mood for the film. The scenery and acting were great. Conrad Veidt as Cesare was great as well as Werner Krauss as Dr. Caligari. I like the end of the film as well. The actual ending was not going to be that way it is. It's better this way. If you're not a fan of the silent era, start with this film. It's a good one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A mad doctor in pursuit of knowledge ?, Jan. 9 2007
By 
M. B. Alcat "Curiosity killed the cat, but sa... (Hanoi, Vietnam) - See all my reviews
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"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919), directed by Robert Wiene, is one of the best examples of German Expressionism. This film has the distinctive mise-en-sc'ne of that movement, with a scenography characterized by geometrical lines and sharp angles that along with a good use of light and darkness give the spectator the feeling of being immersed in a nightmare. Even though this is a silent movie, the viewer is never bored, but rather feels like part of what is happening, due to the fact that the story isn't slow, and also because the music helps to build the tension in the different scenes.

The story is told from the point of view of a young man who saw his life almost destroyed by the main character, Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). Caligari visited his town and brought death with him, in the form of a somnambulist who predicted the future , Cesare (Conrad Veidt). Dr. Caligari was intent on studying the effects of somnambulism, because he wanted to know how far a sleepwalker would go if persuaded to do some things that would be contrary to his nature while awake, for example murdering someone. Of course, the whole thing was nothing else than a experiment for Caligari, a mad doctor that would have done anything in his pursuit of knowledge.

All in all, I think that this is a fairly entertaining film. It is short, but has an interesting plot and a twist at the end that you will never guess. "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" isn't likely to be similar to other films you have previously seen, and even if you are familiar with German Expressionism, I sincerely believe you will enjoy it.

Belen Alcat
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Art, April 22 2004
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is very original. Then again, it was in 1919; it has to be original. From what I read in reviews of other versions, this one is slightly different. Whatever the difference is, I don't care because this one is possibly the greatest film ever made. It is also, in my opinion, the first ever zombie movie. Even though Cesare is technically a somnambulist, he is still under control of Dr. Caligari and is made to murder...sounds like a zombie to me. Basic, non-spoiling plot: Two men are in love with one girl. One man is murdered as predicted by a somnambulist at a side show at the Fair with Dr. Caligari. It turns out that it was Cesare (the somnambulist), after he kidnapped the woman that the two men were in love with. Cesare has a heart attack (looks like it any way), falls to the bottom of the hill he has climbed carrying the woman, and dies. Sounds like a simple, boring story, right? WRONG. The last 10 to 15 minutes of the film really catches you. It turns out it is not just a dramatizing film of murder, yet a complete twist of insanity. Good luck finding this original 1919 silent movie at a store for rental. By this baby through Amazon. It's very cheap, and suprisingly enough---it actually has special features(not many, but they're there)! This movie is highly original, extremely creative, mind-bending, and over-the-top weird with sets of swirly walls and odd doors. Not to mention the make-up. Beautiful movie. Buy it. Enough said.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Caligari still rules!, Feb. 18 2004
By 
H. Lim (Carlingford, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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I don't know why this film is criticised for its storyline. Maybe it is because of the persistent (but only possibly true) rumours that the "twist" at the end is the result of political pressures; or that it is a cop-out.
I think "The Cabine t of Doctor Caligari" has been underrated. The plot of the film is no less amazing than the distorted sets for which it is famous. No matter where the final twist came from, it somehow fits perfectly into the fabric of the film, making it a journey into the ultimate "cabine t", the mind of a madman.
This disc (which is the same as the Force Videos/Eureka disc available in Australia" is definitely worth the money. Reviewers who criticise this disc are often ignorant of the condition of the negative for this film. Yes, there is "supposed" to be a black line across the top of the screen; it was on the original negative (thank the original German company which screwed up when trying to find out where the top of the frame should end). Yes, there was tinting on the original film (most silent films had tinting; this restoration of the print is based on a tinted negative).
There is, in fact, much to recommend about this restoration. The image, for a film that is eighty-five years old, is magnificent. The frame rate (a perilously low 16 frames per second) has been maintained; which, given my recent irritation with Abel Gance's "Napoleon", is a real bonus.
The soundtrack, by a certain Mr Brock, is about the best soundtrack for a silent film that I have heard. The string music in the expressionist-serialist style of Schoeberg and other composers of the period, drips with suitably expressionistic atmosphere.
The alternative sountrack is a pretty good (though often dry) commentary by a film scholar. It is very interesting to hear his comments; such as, for instance, recent evidence casting doubt on the original oft-told story about why there is a twist at the end.
On the extras there are some (startlingly modern) original advertising posters from America in 1920-1. Film advertising hasn't changed much - these posters, with some modifications, could have been used to promote "Crouching Tiger", for instance.
There are also photos of the original cinema where the film had its premiere - again, startlingly modern; I didn't know cinemas back then could be so plush.
If I had anything bad to say about this disc, it would be that the intertitles, even though they are based on the original intertitles in German, are almost unbearably ugly. That, and the fact that the cover art in the Australian release is also unbearably ugly, with a typesetting error on the back...
I heartily recommend this disc for anyone with even a passing interest in silent film or expressionism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars There is something frightful in our midst!, Dec 14 2003
By 
Pamela Scarangello (Middletown, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
Filmed way back in 1921, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is perhaps one of the oldest horror films ever made. As a viewer, I see this film as a macabre, magnificent work of art. It was probably intended to be that way, since director Robert Wiene was heavily inspired by the German Expressionist movement. With its skewed and handpainted scenery, crooked angles, looming shadows, and ghostly aura, this feature film is an Edvard Munch painting brought to life. More importantly, its simple yet terrifying plotline helped give birth to early cinematic horror, which would forever place Lon Chaney, Bela Legosi, and Boris Karloff on pedestals.
Here is the synopsis: A young man named Francis (Friedrich Feher) plays the narrator, opening his story at a carnival sideshow that opened in the town of Holstenwall. Francis and his best friend Alan (Hans Heinrich Von Twardowski) attended the show to witness a truly strange attraction: An aging scientist named Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) unveils to an astounded audience a ghoulish sleepwalker named Cesare (Conrad Veidt), who the Doctor solely commands through the power of hypnotism. Under his control, Cesare awakens from his coffin-like box to prophesise people's fates. When an excited Alan asks Cesare, "How long shall I live?" he grimly utters, "The time is short. You die at dawn!" Meanwhile, the town police investigate a string of bizarre murders. Not surprisingly, Alan would end up becoming the killer's next victim!
Devastated by the sudden loss of his friend, Francis seeks aid from the town police. Together, they find clues linking the cold-blooded killings with Dr. Caligari's priceless freak of nature. In the film's latter half, Francis and the authorities read through the Doctor's notes and discover his most fiendish, insane ambition: The old man gleefully named himself after an 11th century monk who once toured across Northern Italy with a somnanbulist at his side. Dr. Caligari's studies reveal how he recruited poor Cesare from an insane asylum and forced him to commit acts of murder and terrorize innocent people! After the awful truth is exposed, justice prevails as the wicked Doctor is bound in a straitjacket and dragged away. Or is he?
I really love how Conrad Veidt's Cesare character is both terrifying and sympathetic. Although he basically wears a black bodysuit, his figure somehow provides the illusion of inhuman strength, like he was carved out of stone. However, that changes later on when Cesare breaks into the bedroom of Francis's betrothed Jane (Lil Dagover). In a state of torment, he raises the knife over his head and stops himself from stabbing the sleeping woman. In that instance, a viewer can realize that Cesare is only human, and that the Doctor is the true monster. The way actor Werner Krauss portrays him, by the way, is quite marvelous. He's clearly the manipulator of the story; a dangerously clever individual who tries desperately not to get caught. Finally, Friedrich Feher's Francis is a not a typical hero, but rather a traumatized young man seeking the truth; it's obvious that he's overcome with grief and driven almost mad. Did I say almost? As a participant in the movie's main action, Francis is both horrified and curious about the Doctor's motives.
This is a movie I definitely recommend to the openly artistic. The DVD is the perfect gift for Tim Burton fans!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky & Entertaining Expressionist Masterpiece, Nov. 15 2003
By 
mirasreviews (McLean, VA USA) - See all my reviews
In the little German town of Holstenwall, performers have come from far and wide to set up exhibitions at the town's fair. Among them is a man named Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) who has brought a Somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt) to entertain the townsfolk. Cesare has slept for 23 years and, through his morbid trance, has acquired knowledge of the past and future. But shortly after Dr. Caligari and Cesare arrive, a series of grisly murders take place in the town. Francis (Friedrich Feher), whose best friend was a victim, vows to track down the person responsible for these hideous crimes.
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a stunning example of both German expressionism and effective commercial entertainment. Directed by Robert Wiene in 1919, with extraordinary expressionist set design by Hermann Warm and a haunting modern musical score by Timothy Brock, "Caligari" is no less sophisticated in its themes or story-telling technique than modern films. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Alfred Hitchcock's work, in particular his television program. Oddly, the film isn't black-and-white. It's color -or "colored" actually. The film is toned. Scenes that take place at night have a bluish cast. Daytime -or indoor light- has a sepia tone. And a few scenes are actually purple, which I assume was intended to communicate a melancholy mood. (The film was originally hand-tinted, but later prints may not have been. The Image Entertainment DVD is tinted, but I don't know if the other DVD versions are.) The blue and purple casts are interesting, but seem garish at times. Most of the scenes are sepia, which is pleasing to the eye and gives the film a warmth that wouldn't be possible in neutral black&white. The story is told in flashback, and there are flashbacks inside of that one. I was surprised to see real visual effects in such an antique film. And there is a surprise ending no less startling than the ending of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense". In fact, the film's blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, sanity and insanity, can be pretty unsettling. This is a rare horror film that succeeds in creating a true sense of horror at least once. "Caligari"'s fanciful expressionist sets are absolutely fabulous. The sets alone would make the film worth watching. Add great writing and technique, and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a wonderfully entertaining example of early cinema that really stands the test of time. Highly recommended. Intertitles are in English only.
The DVD (This refers to the Image Entertainment DVD only.): This is one of those DVDs that starts to play the film as soon as you put the disc into the machine, so be quick on the remote. Bonus features include excerpts from a film called "Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire", which director Robert Wiene made in 1920, and a excellent audio commentary by film historian Mike Budd. I highly recommend the commentary, but don't be tempted to listen to it the first time you view the film. The film suffers without its musical score, and the audio commentary gives away the ending early in the film. It's very worthwhile on your second viewing, though. Mike Budd talks about the artistry of "Caligari" as well as the state of commercial film and expressionist art in Germany at the time. The film's speed is correct on this DVD, but the condition of the print leaves something to be desired. There is noticeable white noise (scratches) in much of the film, and there is a conspicuous dark band across the top of the screen in many of the scenes. Maybe the film was originally like that. This print certainly is. It would be nice if it were cleaned up. These flaws don't detract too much from the enjoyment of the film, but that dark band is especially obtrusive. On the other hand, I appreciate that this DVD was made from a print which has the original color tinting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderful, June 26 2003
By 
I discovered this film (probably as many twenty-somethings do) in college. I had to take a class on international cinema and I watched excerpts of this in a documentary about German Expressionism and the Weimar cinema. I was so entranced by the snippets I saw that I knew I simply had to view and own the whole thing. Thankfully, this inexpensive DVD is available. True, the film quality may leave something to be desired, but, as a student, I simply don't have much money to spend at the moment and I felt this version was a lifesaver. The film's cinematography is stunning; I can think of few others that place the audience so well in a confusing, murky, dreamlike environment. The costumes and makeup are outstanding as well. The lack of overblown special effects actually adds much to the film-- Cesare's stark makeup makes him five times more frightening than today's movie monsters. The high contrast between light and dark (in the setting and the costuming) only heightens the fear factor. In terms of plot, _Dr. Caligari_ keeps the audience engaged. The conclusion is open to interpretation. I have my own favorite theory of course, but I'll refrain from sharing it so that I don't spoil the film for any first time viewers. The film's influence is evident though I, like others, am surprised that no direct remake has been produced. One reviewer noted that Anthony Hopkins would make a good Dr. Caligari. I agree wholeheartedly and I posit that Willem Dafoe would make a fantastic Cesare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A find DVD of Robert Weine's Expressionist masterpiece!, Feb. 19 2002
By A Customer
Image Entertainment over the last few years has built a reputation for high-quality DVD releases of classic films from the silent era, and Image's special edition treatment of THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI is no exception. It goes without saying that Robert Weine's 1919 masterpiece was a groundbreaking moment in the history of Expressionist cinema, so I will confine my remarks to assessing the DVD release.
In short, I find Image's video and audio transfer here to be superb, and a vast improvement over other available video releases. Many reviewers have expressed concern over the black bar that frequently runs through the top of the frame. As I understand it, the black bar is found on the negative itself, which is otherwise in relatively good condition given the film's age. This is NOT Image's fault. They had the choice between either cropping the top of the image, which is how the film has often been presented, or preserving the full frame, inspite of the black bar. Image chose the later option and, in my view, it was the right one, though some viewers might disagree. Otherwise, the tinted black and white image is quite good, and is complemented by a highly effective musical score (the sound is crisp and full). Finally, the Image DVD features a very informative audio commentary with film scholar Mike Budd. This DVD deserves viewing by anyone serious about film, and not fortunate enough to have seen a theatrical print. Moreover, if you are interested in Expressionist cinema, I would highly recommend that you add this DVD to your library.
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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene (DVD - 2004)
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