The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Another of the really old films to make it onto my list, we have The Cabinet of Dr Caligari from waaaay back in 1920. Once again, just like Nosferatu, we are in silent film mode, speech and plot are shown on placards and there is an almost constant score being played alongside the onscreen action.

A travelling fair has arrived in the small town of Holstenwall and along with it is a mysterious man calling himself Dr Caligari who, as his showpiece, has a somnambulist (a constantly sleeping man who is under the control of Dr Caligari and will answer questions put to him by the audience). In what is a quite convoluted storyline, there are mysterious murders, a good natured competition for the heart of a young woman, an investigation from the police and also from the local towns-folk. To top it all off there are also cases of misdirection and disguise as they all try to uncover who committed the murders.

The plot is compelling, the acting is of a better standard than that which was on show in the similar-year Nosferatu and the sense of direction feels more composed to illicit a certain tone and effect. Off kilter scenery, buildings and streets are purposefully constructed offset so as to be unsettling, add to the creepy tone that is portrayed throughout.

Not being totally scary, but as previous mentioned it is unsettling, like something isn’t quite right. It is a really impressive piece of work, showcasing a lot of different techniques to get the story across.


Horror Rating:      ½

Overall Rating:    

1 thought on “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

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