081 - The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari tells the story of Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist (someone who sleeps with a low consciousness) whose predictions come true.

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

The prediction comes true and Cesare is believed to be the murderer with Caligari as the puppet master.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
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 Caligari is seen as one such story where the cabinet survived.

As a silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is always going to be difficult to follow by 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 a cornerstone in the genre.

Despite being over 90 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.

It pushes the boundaries of silent film, and perhaps the 2005 remake will help modern audiences who many not understand the original.


Full Feature (Public Domain)