the cabinet of dr. caligari
das cabinet des dr. caligari
dir. robert wiene
Caligari is truly a remarkable film. Visually stunning from start to finish, it has come to be lauded as the “quintessential German expressionist film”, referencing its striking deviation from a naturalistic style to something “dark, twisted, and bizarre”, as well as its sociopolitical subject matter: dealing with a dangerous authority figure, and an unabashedly obedient subject (one that, later, would lead some to call the film a premonition of Germany’s future.)
The film, told primarily in flashback, lets us know early of a fair coming to town. We meet a man, Caligari, who wants to have a show at the fair featuring his somnambulist, Cesare, who he claims has been sleeping his entire life. Soon after Cesare arrives, a number of murders break out around town, leading to questions regarding the mysterious sleepwalker and his even stranger guardian.
“Spirits surround us on every side…”
Caligari is essential silent film viewing. Its influence is obvious (Tim Burton is the obvious name that comes to mind) and it’s a powerful work in its own right, calling into question human nature and the mind’s ability to be manipulated by a tyrannical power.
Available to watch in standard quality via YouTube.