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Encyclopedia > The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Directed by Robert Wiene
Produced by Rudolf Meinert
Erich Pommer
Written by Hans Janowitz
Carl Mayer
Starring Werner Krauss
Conrad Veidt
Friedrich Fehér
Lil Dagover
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
Music by Giuseppe Becce
Cinematography Willy Hameister
Distributed by Goldwyn Distributing Company
Release date(s) Germany February 26, 1920
USA March 19, 1921
Japan May 14, 1921
Running time 71 min.
Language German
Budget DEM 20,000 (estimated)
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (original title: Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari) is a groundbreaking 1920 silent film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the earliest, most influential and most artistically acclaimed German Expressionist films, and held by many to be the first horror film. Image File history File links 630507549. ... Robert Wiene (born April 27, 1873 in Breslau; died 17 July 1938 in Paris) was a German film director. ... Erich Pommer (July 20, 1889 – May 8, 1966) was one of the most influential producers of the silent film era, having been one of the most influential creators being the German Expressionism movement as the head of production at Ufa from 1924 to 1926. ... Hans Janowitz (December 2, 1890 in Poděbrady, Bohemia - May 25, 1954 in New York) was a German author. ... Carl Mayer (20 November 1894 Graz, Austria - 1 July 1944 London) was a screenplay writer who wrote or co-wrote the screenplays to The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), Der Letzte Mann (1924), and Sunrise (1927), the last two being films directed by F. W. Murnau. ... Werner Krauss (June 23, 1884 – October 20, 1959) was a German film actor. ... Conrad Veidt in The Spy in Black (1939). ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Germany. ... February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Year 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... March 19 is the 78th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (79th in leap years). ... Year 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for full calendar). ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Japan. ... May 14 is the 134th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (135th in leap years). ... Year 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for full calendar). ... Year 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... A silent film is a film which has no accompanying soundtrack. ... Robert Wiene (born April 27, 1873 in Breslau; died 17 July 1938 in Paris) was a German film director. ... Hans Janowitz (December 2, 1890 in Poděbrady, Bohemia - May 25, 1954 in New York) was a German author. ... Carl Mayer (20 November 1894 Graz, Austria - 1 July 1944 London) was a screenplay writer who wrote or co-wrote the screenplays to The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), Der Letzte Mann (1924), and Sunrise (1927), the last two being films directed by F. W. Murnau. ... F.W. Murnaus Nosferatu German Expressionism, also referred to as expressionism in filmmaking, developed in Germany (especially Berlin) during the 1920s. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


Plot overview

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Still from the film.
Still from the film.

The film tells the story of the deranged Doctor Caligari and his faithful sleepwalking Cesare and their connection to a string of murders in a German mountain village, Holstenwall. Caligari presents one of the earliest examples of a motion picture "frame story" in which the body of the plot is presented as a flashback, as told by Francis. Image File history File links CABINET_DES_DR_CALIGARI_01. ... Image File history File links CABINET_DES_DR_CALIGARI_01. ... A frame story (also frame tale, frame narrative, etc. ... In literature and film, a flashback (also called analepsis) takes the narrative back in time from the point the story has reached, to recount events that happened before and give the back-story. ...

The narrator, Francis, and his friend Alan visit a carnival in the village where they see Dr. Caligari and Cesare, whom the doctor is displaying as an attraction. Caligari brags that Cesare can answer any question he is asked. When Alan asks Cesare how long he has to live, Cesare tells Alan that he will die tomorrow at dawn — a prophecy which turns out to be fulfilled. The carnival is a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus and public street party, generally during the carnival season. ... Prophecy in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events or the speaking of divine words (divine Revelation) through chosen human messengers (prophets). ...

Francis, along with his girlfriend Jane, investigate Caligari and Cesare, which eventually leads to Jane's kidnapping by Cesare. Caligari orders Cesare to kill Jane, but the hypnotized slave relents after her beauty captivates him. He carries Jane out of her house, leading the townsfolk on a lengthy chase. Francis discovers Caligari is the head of the local insane asylum, and with the help of his colleagues discovers he's obsessed with the story of a previous Doctor Caligari, who used a somnambulist to murder people as a traveling act. A psychiatric hospital (also called a mental hospital or asylum) is a hospital specializing in the treatment of persons with mental illness. ...

Cesare falls to his death during the pursuit and the townsfolk discover that Caligari had created a dummy of Cesare to distract Francis. After being confronted with the dead Cesare, Caligari breaks down and reveals his mania and is imprisoned in his asylum. The influential twist ending reveals that Francis' flashback is actually his fantasy: Caligari is his asylum doctor, who, after this revelation of his patient's delusion, claims to be able to cure him. Mania is a medical condition characterized by severely elevated mood. ... ‹ The template below has been proposed for deletion. ... See fantasy for an account of the literary genre involving the development of common or popular fantasies. ... A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception. ...

Spoilers end here.


Producer Erich Pommer first asked Fritz Lang to direct this film, but he was committed to work on Die Spinnen (The Spiders), so Pommer gave directorial duties to Robert Wiene. Friedrich Anton Christian Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-American film director, screenwriter and occasional film producer, one of the best known émigrés from Germanys school of expressionism. ... Robert Wiene (born April 27, 1873 in Breslau; died 17 July 1938 in Paris) was a German film director. ...

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The producers, who wanted a less macabre ending, imposed upon the director the idea that everything turns out to be Francis' delusion. The original story made it clear that Caligari and Cesare were real and were responsible for a number of deaths.

Spoilers end here.

Filming took place in December 1919 and January 1920. The film premiered at the Marmorhaus in Berlin on February 26, 1920.[1] Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... Year 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Berlin is the capital city and one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany. ... February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Year 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ...


Dr. Caligari.
Dr. Caligari.

Critics worldwide have praised the film for its Expressionist style, complete with wild, distorted set design—a striking use of mise en scène. Caligari has been cited as an influence on films noir and horror films; it is also often seen as one of the first horror films, a model for directors for many decades (including Alfred Hitchcock). Image File history File links Caligari. ... Image File history File links Caligari. ... Expressionism in filmmaking developed in Germany (especially Berlin) during the 1920s. ... Mise en scène [mizɑ̃sÉ›n] has been called film criticisms grand undefined term, but that is not because of a lack of definitions. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (August 13, 1899 – April 29, 1980) was a highly influential film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. ...

Siegfried Kracauer's From Caligari to Hitler postulates that the film can be read as an allegory for German social attitudes in the period preceding the Second World War. He argues that the character of Caligari represents a tyrannical figure, to whom the only alternative is social chaos (represented by the fairground).[2] However, Kracauer's work has been largely discredited by contemporary scholars of German cinema, for example by Thomas Elsaesser in Weimar Cinema and After, who describes the legacy of Kracauer's work as a "historical imaginary".[3] Elsaesser claims that Kracauer studied too few films to make his thesis about the social mindset of Germany legitimate and that the discovery and publication of the original screenplay of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari undermines his argument about the revolutionary intent of its writers. Elsaesser's alternative thesis is that the filmmakers adopted an Expressionist style as a method of product differentiation, establishing a distinct national product against the increasing import of American films. Dietrich Scheunemann, somewhat in defense of Kracauer, noted that he didn't have, "the full range of materials at (his) disposal," however, that that fact, "has clearly and adversely affected the discussion of the film," referencing that the script wasn't rediscovered until 1977 and that Kracauer hadn't seen the film in around 20 years when he wrote the work.[4] Siegfried Kracauer (February 8, 1889, Frankfurt am Main, Germany - November 26, 1966, New York) was a journalist, sociologist, and film critic. ... Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ...

Adaptations and derivative works

  • A sound remake was released in 2005 and won several awards at horror film festivals. It attempted to reproduce the look of the original film as closely as possible.
  • The film was adapted into an opera in 1997, by composer John Moran. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premiered at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, directed by Robert McGrath.[5]
  • Numerous musicians have composed new musical scores to accompany the film. In 1994, jazz bassist Mark Dresser led pianist Denman Maroney and trumpeter Dave Douglas in his compositions for the film, which they performed live at the Knitting Factory and released on CD in 1994. The british electronica band In The Nursery created an ambient soundtrack for the film, released on CD in 1996. In 2002, british musician and composer Geoff Smith composed a new soundtrack to the film for the hammered dulcimer, which he performed live as an accompaniment to the film. In 2006, Peruvian rock group Kinder composed a soundtrack to the film, performing it live during the screenings. The venue was "El Cinematógrafo", a film club in the district of Barranco.
  • Jean-Marc Lofficier wrote Superman's Metropolis, a trilogy of graphic novels for DC Comics illustrated by Ted McKeever, the second of which was entitled Batman: Nosferatu, most of the plot derived from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
  • A movie of the same title, The Cabinet of Caligari, produced by shlockmeister William Castle, script by Robert Bloch, was made in 1962, claiming to be inspired by this movie.
  • A radio version is published by Blackstone Audio featuring John de Lancie, written and produced by Yuri Rasovsky.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 2005 independent film, and a talkie remake of the 1920 film of the same name. ... John Moran is an American composer, author and choreographer. ... The American Repertory Theatre (or A.R.T.) is housed in the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ...   Settled: 1630 â€“ Incorporated: 1636 Zip Code(s): 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ... Sheet music is written represenation of music. ... Mark Dresser (b. ... Denman Maroney is a jazz musician who plays what he calls hyperpiano. ... Dave Douglas (born March 24, 1963) is a U.S. jazz trumpeter and composer whose music is notable for drawing on many non-jazz musical styles, including classical music, European folk music and klezmer. ... The Knitting Factory is a New York City music club, in its heyday specializing in jazz and experimental music (though these are no longer its main focus). ... In The Nursery are an experimental electronica band, known for their cinematic sound. ... Ambient music is a loosely defined musical genre that incorporates elements of a number of different styles - including jazz, electronic music, new age, rock and roll, modern classical music, reggae, traditional, world and even noise. ... Geoff Smith is a musical performer and composer from Brighton, England. ... Jean-Marc Lofficier (born June 22, 1954) is a French Occitan author of books about films and television programs, as well as numerous comic books and translations of a number of animation screenplays. ... Supermans Metropolis is a DC Comics comic book Elseworlds trilogy, based on German Expressionism cinema, written by Jean-Marc Lofficier, Randy Lofficier and Roy Thomas (first volume only) and illustrated by Ted McKeever. ... A trilogy is a set of three works of art, usually literature or film, that are connected and can generally be seen as a single work as well as three individual ones. ... Trade paperback of Will Eisners A Contract with God (1978), often mistakenly cited as the first graphic novel. ... DC Comics is one of the largest American companies in comic book and related media publishing. ... Cover of the collected edition of Eddy Current Ted McKeever is an award-winning American Comics artist. ... John de Lancie John de Lancie (born March 20, 1948) is a U.S. character actor. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ...

Caligari in popular culture

  • In Lemony Snicket's book The Carnivorous Carnival the action takes place in the Caligari Carnival, which features a somewhat less-than-authentic fortune teller.
  • The appearance of the character Edward in Edward Scissorhands is based on that of Cesare.
  • A Spanish pop/rock band is called "Gabinete Caligari", probably after the film
  • There is a Japanese visual kei band called cali≠gari (a band that probably represented the eroguro style best)
  • The 1998 music video for Rob Zombie single "Living Dead Girl" restaged several scenes from the film, with Zombie in the role of Caligari beckoning to the fair attendees. In addition to artificially imitating the poor image quality of aged film, the video also made use of the expressionistic sepia, aqua, and violet tinting used in Caligari. The film also inspired imagery in the videos for "Otherside" (1999) by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and "Forsaken" (2002), from the soundtrack for the motion picture Queen of the Damned.
  • In The X-Files, the character Jose Chung who is a novelist, wrote a book called "The Caligarian Candidate"
  • The television program Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured Bride of the Monster in episode 423. One of the comments is "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari?" referring to the twisted haunted manor.

Lemony Snicket is a pseudonym used by author Daniel Handler in his childrens book series A Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as a character in that series. ... << The Hostile Hospital | The Slippery Slope >> Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Carnivorous Carnival The Carnivorous Carnival is the ninth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... EroGuro ) is a concept or movement or sub-genre, still somewhat loosely defined, that has emerged inside multiple schools of Japanese art and music. ... Rob Zombie (born Robert Bartleh Cummings on January 12, 1965[1] in Haverhill, Massachusetts) is a heavy metal and industrial rock musician, a director, and a writer. ... Living Dead Girl is the second single off Rob Zombies solo debut Hellbilly Deluxe. ... Single cover Otherside is a song by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, the lead section of this article may need to be expanded. ... forsake (STOP) verb [T] forsook, forsaken FORMAL to stop doing or having something: He decided to forsake politics for journalism. ... Queen of the Damned is a 2002 film adaptation of the third novel of Anne Rices The Vampire Chronicles series, The Queen of the Damned although the film contained many plot elements from that novels predecessor, The Vampire Lestat. ... The X-Files is an American television series created by Chris Carter. ... Jose Chung is a fictional character created by Darin Morgan, who appears in The X-Files episode Jose Chungs From Outer Space and the Millenium episode Jose Chungs Doomsday Defense. Chung is played by Charles Nelson Reilly and is a writer. ... Mystery Science Theater 3000, often abbreviated MST3K, is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc. ... Originally known as Bride of the Atom, Bride of the Monster is a 1955 science-fiction film starring Bela Lugosi in a traditional mad scientist role, and was produced, directed and co-written by Ed Wood. ...


  • Elsaesser, Thomas (2000). Weimar Cinema and After: Germany's Historical Imaginary. Routledge. 
  • Kracauer, Siegfried (2004 edition; 1947, original English translation). From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film. Princeton University Press. 
  • Robinson, David (1997). Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari. British Film Institute. 


  1. ^ Robinson 47
  2. ^ Kracauer
  3. ^ Elsaesser
  4. ^ Dietrich Scheunemann, ed. Expressionist Films: New Perspectives. (Rochester:Camden House, 2003), 128
  5. ^ The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari multimedia theatre piece.

See also

The period of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) between the fall of the German Empire and the rise of the Third Reich is considered an early renaissance in world cinema, with many influential and important films being made. ...

External links



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