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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The (1921) - B&W - 70 min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) was originally released in Germany as Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari in 1920. Directed by Robert Wiene, starring Werner Krauss as Dr. Caligari, a sideshow operator, and Conrad Veidt as Cesare, Caligari's somnambulist freak. (basically a sleepwalker). The story is told through the eyes of Francis, who is bethrothed to Jane. It seems Alan, Francis' best friend also has a thing for Jane. Alan invites Francis to the carnival, where they check out Caligari's tent, and are amazed when Cesare wakes up to tell the future. He predicts Alan will be dead by sunrise.

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
Directed by - Robert Wiene

(1921) - B&W - 70 min
The film is a milestone in the medium's history for its ethereal feel - with skewed, angular sets, and Francis' outlook on what happened. None of the doors or windows have perpendicular angles - calling to mind Tim Burton's weird environments in Edward Scissorhands or Batman. Figuring out what is going on - is more of a mirror into your own psyche, as it seems the story is told by a madman. Which reminds me David Lynch's Eraserhead or Blue Velvet. Clearly, this film influenced a lot of today's greats - and is a masterpiece of the German Expressionist period.

Part one
Intro, B&W, title screens, credits etc. The story begins with Francis telling his story about what happened to his murdered friend Alan, and his frazzled fiance, Jane, a symbol of purity, as she is always dressed in virginal white. We flash back to the beginning where Alan asks him to go to the fair, and the encounter with Dr. Caligari, and the fortune telling somnambulist, Cesare. Indeed - Alan does get murdered, but we only see the shadow of killer. Was it Cesare, making his prediction come true, or perhaps, Alan himself - who killed Alan because of his passion for Jane, and his concern that she would go for Alan instead of returning his love.

Werner Krauss as Dr. Caligari

the mysterious shadow on the wall during Alan's murder. Is it Cesare or is it Francis? .... hmmmm

Part two
The plot thickens - as the police have apparently nabbed the murderer. It turns out the man was only trying to kill an old woman, and had nothing to do with Alan's death. The police try and question Caligari and Cesare - but Cesare is missing, replaced by a dummy. (BTW - Conrad Veidt who plays Cesare is best known for his role as the evil Nazi SS Major Strasser in Casablanca. You can also check him out in the Spy in Black on LikeTelevision's movie channel). Meanwhile, there's a brief mention of Jane's Dad, a Dr. Olsen. And what about Mrs. Olsen - is she out making Folger's coffee somewhere. Yeah, maybe Mrs. Olsen did it.

Hans Heinrich Von Twardowski as Alan

Part three
Alan continues to ramble on about what happened - years have passed, and he is looking for Caligari in an insane asylum. And what about Dr. Olsen, Jane's Dad - what's all that about? Alan looks at some old books of the insane asylum's director, and concludes that the director himself is Caligari. Then the big finish - where the asylum director concludes he now knows how to treat Francis' psychosis - based on the knowledge that Francis thinks he's Caligari. Is Francis nuts - or is the director really the demon monk from 1093 named Caligari. The world may never know. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the Claigari message board. Finally - a special word of thanks to Doug, LikeTelevision's creative officer, who spent about 2 weeks on this film cleaning it up, shortening the very lengthy tableaux sections, and also working like mad to clean up the text in the tableaux so you could read. I believe he made over 500 edits. Finally, he put a slight tint on certain sections - sepia, blue, and desaturated black and white, to help our viewers get a better concept of the time, whether Francis was in current time - telling the story, flashing back, or flashing back in a more distant flashback. (think Wayne and Garth dream sequences). Thanks Frank, I mean Doug.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Message Board

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
Directed by - Robert Wiene

Starring - Werner Krauss as Dr. Caligari, Conrad Veidt as Cesare, Friedrich Feh?r as Francis, Lil Dagover as Jane, Rudolf Lettinger as Dr. Olsen, Hans Heinrich Von Twardowski as Alan, Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the alleged murderer

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Friedrich Feh?r as Francis

Looks like Cesare, played by Conrad Veidt, has a thing for Jane too

Werner Krauss as Dr. Caligari, looking especially diabolical

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Lil Dagover as the virginal Jane, always dress in white

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