The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

During the 1800's, many people started collections of mysterious objects. These possessions were displayed in cupboards and became known as Cabinets of Curiosities. While many of these were bought out by larger collections - which later formed museums - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is seen as one such story where the cabinet survived.

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari tells the story of Dr. Caligari and Cesare, his somnambulist (someone who sleeps with a low consciousness) with supernatural abilities.

Narrator Francis and his friend Alan visit a carnival where Dr. Caligari is exhibiting Cesare. As Caligari boldly claims that Cesare can explain anyone's future, Alan asks when he might die to which Cesare says by dawn.

When the prediction comes true a manhunt ensues with Cesare is believed to be the murderer and Caligari as the puppet master.

As a silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is always going to be difficult to follow by the majority of today's audience who are used to full sound and graphically superior movies. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, though, takes us back to the roots of horror films and is seen as not just a cornerstone in the genre, but perhaps the first successful and popular horror flick.

Despite being over 100 years old, the story has lived on well, and is still an interesting concept. A twist ending is very clever, and anyone who has seen Shutter Island will fully appreciate exactly what The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari has given to film. A 2005 remake remains true to the story, but was less well received.

Revolutionary for its time and oft copied, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari definitively proves that sound is not needed for a compelling and engaging film.

4 stars

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is in the public domain and you can watch this, in full, for free.