"See the sleepwalker, floating down the street, ripped from some nightmare! A street of misshapen houses with brooding windows, streaked by dagger strokes of light and darkened by blots of shadow! You will immediately feel the terror in the movements of that floating grotesque!"
- from the American advertising campaign for "Caligari".
Entertainment Weekly - 05/31/1996
"...Exhibit A for the whole German Expressionist movement....A classic." -- Rating: A
USA Today - 05/24/1996
"...This is an impressive color-tinted rendering of the German silent classic..."
Total Film - 12/01/2000
"...One of the first -- and still one of the greatest -- psychological horror movies..."
Sight and Sound - 04/01/2001
"...[An] eerie classic..."
In this silent, classic example of early German expressionism, this cinematic landmark relates the stylized tale of a Dr. Caligari, a fairground showman who hypnotizes an innocent villager--turning him into a sleepwalking "zombie"--and compels him to carry out fiendish murders. Inarguably a landmark in world cinema, Robert Weine's one-of-a-kind thriller features fantastical, heavily stylized sets, antirealist acting, and evocative subjective camerawork.
Description by Image Entertainment:
The film that forged the dark, ominous cinematic movement known as German Expressionism--and influenced vanguard filmmakers for generations--regains its original, electrifying authority in this definitive presentation. Werner Krauss stars as a deranged hypnotist who spreads death through the countryside from a ramshackle traveling carnival. Before the naive eyes of the townspeople, he unveils the contents of his coffin-like cabinet: Cesare (Conrad Veidt), a spidery sleepwalker who obeys his every command. But at night, once the crowds have dispersed, Caligari lifts the lid on darker intentions, unleashing the dreadful Cesare to act upon his master's murderous whims and carnal desires. Director Robert Wiene and his designers combined techniques of painting, theatre and film to conjure a nightmare world of splintered reality, boldly creating a visual representation of insanity.
Cult Film |
Mad Doctor |
Theatrical Release |
A silent film.
Producer Erich Pommer originally hired Fritz Lang to direct, but when Lang's busy schedule kept him from working on the film he was replaced by Robert Wiene. Pommer is responsible for writing the film's famous surprise ending.
The film's production cost is estimated at under $20,000.