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Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1920)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 9.2/10
Reviews Counted: 46
Fresh: 46 | Rotten: 0

This German Expressionist masterpiece makes great use of its chilling premise and stylized set design.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0

This German Expressionist masterpiece makes great use of its chilling premise and stylized set design.

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 25,356

My Rating

Movie Info

In one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari's visit. When the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed seems to be the outgrowth of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover). Francis suspects Caligari, but he is ignored

Oct 15, 1997

Eureka

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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (0) | DVD (7)

A case can be made that Caligari was the first true horror film.

October 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is more than just a textbook classic; the narrative frame creates ambiguities that hold certain elements of the story in disturbing suspension. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Robert Wiene has made perfect use of settings designed by Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann and Walter Roehrig, settings that squeeze and turn and adjust the eye and through the eye the mentality.

October 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thrilling, chilling, electrifying.

August 31, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The mother lode of the horror genre, this German Expressionist movie is directed by Robert Wiene and presents a full smorgasbord of pop-eyed terror, lunatics, murderers and possessed somnambulists in its eerie shadows.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A twisted tale of murder, kidnap, madness and an ancient book, all told in flashback by a young man from a park bench.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Warped in all senses, fascinating and bizarre ...

August 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Just as dreams take complex personalities and boil them down to friend or foe, so too The Cabinet of Dr Caligari brims with archetypes: the demented doctor, the handsome hero, the innocent ingénue.

August 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

This freshly 4K-ed masterpiece of German Expressionism deserves to be seen on the big screen. Track it down and be rewarded with possibly cinema's first ever twist ending.

August 25, 2014 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Other areas of innovation and influence are often overstated, but its silent scream still registers.

August 25, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

This film has madness running all the way through it, a madness that seeps from story into reality and back again.

August 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep

A foundational nightmare vision

July 23, 2014 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

One of the first -- and still one of the greatest -- psychological horror movies.

October 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

With its unusual look and neatly folding method of storytelling "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is an artistically uninhibited silent horror film that still sends chills.

October 3, 2011 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Pre-dating even early genre landmarks Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1926) by some distance, Robert Wiene's silent film is both influential and one of a kind.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

Even if taken as social or Freudian statement, Caligari's real star attraction is in the visuals.

February 7, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

still creepy good entertainment on a rainy day

August 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

A classic. Visually stunning and more experimental than anything coming out today.

January 17, 2008
KPBS.org

The influence of Robert Wiene's Caligari is so great that it threatens to obscure the work itself.

October 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

A seminal horror movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was hailed upon its initial release as the first film to elevate the cinema from the realm of popular entertainment to that of high art.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

One of those rare, amazing technical accomplishments that also succeeds as art.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)

An unforgettable masterpiece of German Expressionism.
September 13, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Beyond being an iconic milestone in the evolution of cinema, Robert Wiene's masterpiece is still as entertaining as ever. The truly great films never go out of style.
March 23, 2012
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Probably the best silent film I have ever seen, Caligari has a clear emphasis on German Expressionism while also being a methodically psychological horror film about the supernatural and the surreal imagination of the insane. Silent films started off as filmed plays, and in that vein this film constructed all its sets by hand, painting them in odd patterns, and showing interesting angles and vacant shots of this small village. Besides the interesting set design for the walls and floors, the stairs and windows were strange as well. The slanting light (possibly natural) barely illuminated the creeping corners and mororse faces of the townspeople. The town itself is romanticized in the loose culture of the times, being small and simple, without the benefits of electricity or modern technology. Much of this was candlelit which lent to an atmosphere where monsters and creepy crawlies could be behind the next wall just waiting to murder you. Not such a stretch since a string of murders mysteriously starts after the appearance of the gypsy centric fair and a tent advertising a coma creep controlled by a large eyebrowed crone named Dr. Caligari. The somnambulist, or coma patient, is a vampiric man who lays within a box and predicts the future based on some unnamed psychic abilities. The look of it and the intricate storyline lends to a very creepy vibe. The characters all express their emotions in a wide and overdramatic way, as this is a German Expressionist film. Everything is bigger, darker, more hurried and vague, and you never quite know who the villain is. Beside that you are always theorizing whether there is any true magic, or it's medicine, or frankly a dream of an insane person. Nothing is ever clear or true, and that leads to feeling unsettled and uneasy over what is on the screen. True, it's silent, and true the characters are at times bland, but it's the storytelling and the fact that it's a horror film that keeps the suspense and the intensity alive. It's a horror film that will have staying power through the decades to come.
February 16, 2012
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

An interesting and strange film that captures the imagination, then leaves you feeling like you've just had a smoke of weed. For it's time it's very current and shows how far cinema has come and what different styles were popular back then and has inspired many directors, art directors and films. A must watch even if you never see it ever again.
December 26, 2011
StarCrossedVoyager

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)

    1. Jane: We who are of noble blood may not follow the wishes of our hearts.
    – Submitted by Greg A (2 years ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (DE)
  • Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (UK)
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