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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 by the police. Investigating on his own, Francis seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders, but the story eventually takes a more surprising direction. The film's twisting plot takes its cue from its Expressionist style, which uses distorted perspectives to mirror the characters' extreme emotional states. The village is a maze of painted sets, filled with unnatural shapes and angles, the actors' movements are highly stylized, and everyone wears thick, grotesque makeup. Through the rest of the silent era, and on into such talkies as Frankenstein (1931), Svengali (1931), and Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), audiences were treated to such Caligariesque devices as spider-like shadows, bizarre makeup and lighting effects, and zombie-like characterizations. Caligari's Expressionist style ultimately led to the dark shadows and sharp angles of the film noir urban crime dramas of the 1940s, many of which were directed by such German émigrés as Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak.
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Rated 5 out of 5 stars
very entertaining movie!
“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920) is a wonderful and highly influential German expressionist film dating from 1920. In it a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrd Veidt), controlled by Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss), goes about murdering people. But there is a framing-story which makes the whole tale the ravings of a lunatic in an asylum. Some have interpreted the film as a premonition for the rise of Hitler in pre-war Germany. But like a dream itself, the film is open to almost any interpretation. The film is 97 years old in 2017 and it sill has a powerful impact on audiences.
Many people don't think that it's worth buying older films on blu ray, mistakenly thinking that only movies filmed in "HD" benefit from the increased resolution and bitrate offered by the home media. Well, they are wrong and this nearly 100 year old film is proof of why it's worth owning high definition classics. The stunning sets with their painted on shadows and distorted angle look incredible, the fidelity of this film classic is astounding with a in image that has been lovingly restored. Caligari is an essential film in the history of movie making and it has never looked better. Buy it now.