Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blind Spot: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921)

Cesare and Dr. Caligari.

Directed by Robert Wiene
Produced by Rudolf Meinert and Erich Pommer (both uncredited)
Written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz
Starring Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, and Friedrich Feher

Plot Summary: Dr. Caligari (Krauss) and his somnambulist, Cesare (Veidt), hold a show at a small fair and terrorize a village.

Significance: An innovative German Expressionist film often remembered for its use of Dutch angles and distinct production design, which incorporated abstractly painted sets and backgrounds.

Thoughts: This silent horror film is an intriguing piece of history, both for its innovation and influence. Visually it is a fascinating display, as most scenes feel off-kilter and disorienting. For its time, the performances are very good, with Krauss and Veidt delivering the best ones of the lot. Its style has been copied and altered by filmmakers for decades, and it's really an astounding piece of work. Amazingly, this film is over 90 years old, and it's still an essential for movie buffs. I'm glad I finally saw it.

Rating: ****

This is the first film in my 2013 Blind Spot Series, as started by Ryan McNeil.


  1. Great review, man. Do you mean the performances are not good by modern standards? I need to get around to seeing this.

    1. Thanks man. Yeah, for the most part. But it's tough to compare overdramatic silent performances with modern acting methods. They're a bit dated, but they work in the film.

      Yeah, it's only 72 minutes long, so it won't take much of your time.