Directed by Robert Wiene Starring: Werner Krauss Conrad Reidt Frederick Feher

Fig.1. Box art The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is an age old silent horror film with a very particular ethos about it. The cinematography, acting style and set design is a derived form of German impressionism of which is a key element to how successful this film is in conveying its narrative without the use of dialogue. The story starts off with Francis, played by Frederick Feher, telling the story of a sinister travelling carnival act, Dr Caligari, played by Werner Krauss and the somnambulist or Cesare is played by Conrad Reidt. The somnambulist (Someone who engages in sleepwalking) is known to make premonitions on whoever seeks to know aspects of their future; anyone proposed with this gift is later mysteriously murdered. Murders prop up throughout the town where the carnival currently resides and Francis set out to halt the catastrophe by following his suspicions of Caligari and Cesare. Investigations are taken place and after a series of events later, Caligari is found out to have been sending Cesare to commit the atrocities, later Cesare’s corpse is revealed causing the distraught of Dr Caligari thus officially linking him to the crimes. He is then declared insane and looked away, the closing of the big door onto him being a metaphor for ending of a heinous chapter... ‘Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made’ exclaims a member of (Timeout: 2006) the exciting aspect is truly the twist at the end which could quite possibly be the definitive key that drives our strong interest for this unsullied piece of theatre. Francis, the story’s hero is confronted with Dr Caligari once more, Caligari is the actually the head of the medical institute, it is made apparent that Francis in the mentally ill man and his placed in the same room as Caligari was in his story and the same situation. Apparent influences for the film were world war one soldiers, victims of shellshock of which entailed variations of mental instabilities such as paranoia, depression and/or bi-polar disorder, even illusions of sorts.

Cole Smithey expresses ‘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.’ what the portrayal of impressionistic stylisation does within the performance is push the story and the very creative set design along in sync, really congregating the many visual elements into something really distinct.

Fig.2. Cesare holding woman Cesare holding this woman is a good visual example of the warped world that resides within the film and use of lighting being used to both forward the theatrical nature, which brought into play by the German impressionism as well as to accentuate the setting in all its monochromatic form. Abstractly shaped walls, rickety architecture and almost whimsical vibes, make this film lurch into a world of asymmetrical confusion, with the acting and narrative keeping realism to the entirety of the film, making it well balanced and intriguing to watch and a well placed example that art has its place in cinematography. ‘A landmark of Expressionist cinema and contains many dazzling set pieces.’ Exclaims Jeffery M. Anderson (Anderson, J: 2004)

Fig.3. Caligari and Cesare in their accomodation

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
List of illustration: -Fig.1. Poster art (1919) At:
Accessed (10/11/11)

-Fig.2. Cesare holding woman (1919) At:
Accessed (10/11/11)

-Fig.3. Caligari and Cesare in their accommodation (1919) At: Accessed (10/11/11)

Bibliography: -Timeout (2006) Rotten Tomatoes At: Accessed (10/11/11)

-Smithey, C (2011) Rotten Tomatoes At: Accessed (10/11/11)

-Anderson, J (2004) Rotten Tomatoes At: Accessed (10/11/11)