Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Silent)
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Robert Wiene's pioneering masterpiece of German expressionism tells the tale of a terrifying somnambulist and his master, the bizarre Dr. Caligari. A true classic of the silent cinema.
A milestone of the silent film era and one of the first "art films" to gain international acclaim, this eerie German classic from 1919 remains the most prominent example of German expressionism in the emerging art of the cinema. Stylistically, the look of the film's painted sets--distorted perspectives, sharp angles, twisted architecture--was designed to reflect (or express) the splintered psychology of its title character, a sinister figure who uses a lanky somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) as a circus attraction. But when Caligari and his sleepwalker are suspected of murder, their novelty act is surrounded by more supernatural implications. With its mad-doctor scenario, striking visuals, and a haunting, zombie-like character at its center, Caligari was one of the first horror films to reach an international audience, sending shock waves through artistic circles and serving as a strong influence on the classic horror films of the 1920s, '30s, and beyond. It's a museum piece today, of interest more for its historical importance, but Caligari still casts a considerable spell. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Best quality I have ever viewed this movie in. Everything the company professes it to b over and above other remakes by other producers.Published 9 months ago by paul koz
Horrible print. The sequences were largely unwatchable by any standard. I believe the title cards were okay. I would not recommend this version.Published on May 1 2014 by Barry Dylan Morgan
The silent film is one of horror's classics. I really enjoyed the atmosphere but prefer Nosferatu as the best one. Read morePublished on June 2 2011 by freemind12
Two men are sitting on a cement bench by the garden wall. One casually says there are evil spirits all around. Read morePublished on July 1 2007 by Bernie
The story is told in a very simplistic manner and the pace is sluggish. The hammy, melodramatic acting really dates the film and causes what was once a horror film to seem... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2004 by Jonathon Allsopp
It has been rumored for years that when the producers set out to make The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari they intended to end the film with Caligari getting captured and no framing story. Read morePublished on July 1 2004
The cabinet was one of the most remarkable films of the german expressionism.
The bitter gaze about a hollow-eyed sleepwalker (Cesare) who commits murders underthe influence... Read more
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