This silent masterpiece has been called the first "cult" movie and the first horror film of genuine quality and substance. A young student, Francis, (Freidrich Feher) encounters evil magician, Dr. Caligari (Werner Kraus), at a county fair. Caligari's "act" consists of waking a frightening somnambulist, Cesare, from the coffin where, it is claimed, he has lain asleep for years. When Francis' best friend is murdered and a killing spree erupts in the small village, he suspects that Caligari is using Cesare to commit the ghastly crimes. When Cesare is sent to murder the student's fiance, Joan (Lil Dagover), he is so smitten with her beauty that he abducts her instead. Francis tracks Caligari to a nearby insane asylum where he is horrified to learn that the doctor is not an inmate but the director of the institution! The surprise ending is as shocking and perplexing today as it was when originally released.
Set designer Hermann Warm enlisted Walter Reimann and Walter Roehrig, fellow members of Berlin's expressionist Der Sturm group, to act as art directors. They created the unprecedented look of the sets, costumes and makeup to reflect the mind of a madman. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari demonstrated to all future filmakers that psychological horror could equal or exceed the effects of physical shocks. This thought-provoking film is a must-see for all who appreciate great movies.
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