'Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' film review

‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ is 52 minutes Horror, Mystery movie directed by Robert Wiene in 1920. The movie is considerate as one of the most influential silent era film. The story is about mysterious sinister hypnotist Doctor Caligari (Werner Krauss), who is able to wake up his somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt) from the death. During Doctor’s visit, mysterious murders appear in the small German town. After the death of one of the main film character Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski), his friend Francis (Friedrich Feher) starts to suspect Doctor Cagliari and Cesare to be involved with the crime. The murder appears in the scene as Cesare, when he tries to kill Francis fiancée Jane (Lil Dagover). However fascinated by the beauty of her, he kidnaps her instead of killing. (Rotten Tomatoes, unknown)


The movie is the starter of German Expressionism in film industry, which basically shows distorted world and its’ characters. In this film we can see spiky trees, unusual tilted walls, sharp angled landscape, what creates unreal mysterious view of the world. That creates totally different environment from the other films, which were filmed before ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’. The movie is basically considerate as first real horror film, because of its’ plot and settings, which were not used before. Also, it is strongly believed that German horror movies were one of the influences of the Nazism in Germany. In one of the best-known books ever written about film, From Caligari to Hitler, the art historian Siegfried Kracauer argued that the rise of Nazism was foretold by the preceding years of German films, which reflected a world at wrong angles and lost values. In this reading, Caligari was Hitler and the German people were sleepwalkers under his spell.’  The author believes that the idea of controlling human mind, as Dr. Caligari controlled Cesare influenced Hitler.

In addition to, the movie is a good example of the rise of the Surrealism movement. 1920 was the year, when surrealism movement appears, which rejects all the standards and leds to the anarchy. The movement is considerate as an outcome and reaction to the horror of the First World War, which ended in the year of 1918. (Ebert, 2009)
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Many other movies as Tim Burtons ‘Edward Scissorhand’ were influenced by this film.’I have no doubt that Tim Burton used Conrad Veidt's Cesare as a model for Edward Scissorhands. Except for the titular manual replacements and unfamiliarity with hair gel, Scissorhands is a dead ringer for Cesare ‘. We can clearly see that Tim Burton used the image of Cesar and applied it to his created character Edward. Pale skin, thin and tall body, black circles around the eyes. Edward is just slightly different from Cesar, what shows that ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ is a big influence for Tim Burton’s movies. We could notice that it influenced his other works as well, as the best example we can take ‘Corpse Bride’. (Bastian, 2000)

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