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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film Release Of The Year
This review is of the DVD from the 2014 Masters Of Cinema Restored Edition

So there is no doubt about it, I'll start this review by stating that the restoration is nothing short of stunning.

The previous version I have to compare it with is the 2002 Kino USA, which was considered pretty comparable to the previous Eureka. The difference in picture...
Published 3 months ago by G. Ratcheson

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great film - terrible version
I love this film and was overjoyed to see it re-released on DVD, thinking it would be better quality than my old version - I was wrong

The film itself is, of course, magnificent, but this version 1) has poor picture and sound quality b) lacks the original expressionist style artistic story inserts (instead has boring black and white normal type ones) and c)...
Published on 16 Nov 2009 by C. Cutter


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film Release Of The Year, 20 Sep 2014
By 
This review is of the DVD from the 2014 Masters Of Cinema Restored Edition

So there is no doubt about it, I'll start this review by stating that the restoration is nothing short of stunning.

The previous version I have to compare it with is the 2002 Kino USA, which was considered pretty comparable to the previous Eureka. The difference in picture quality between the 2002 Kino & the 2014 MOC is similar to that of a 1 pound public domain silent dvd, & the new silent film, "The Artist" from last year. This restoration is that good.

And while I've got a bit more to say, that's really all that matters.

The running time is as follows: 2002 Kino 1:14.18, 2014 MOC 1:17.13.

As this is one of the most famous silent films in history, I would like to assume that most people reading this are familiar with the plot, so I'm going to avoid going there. In my opinion, along with Lang's Metropolis & Die Nibelungen, & Murnau's Faust & Nosferatu, Caligari is one of the top 5 surviving Weimar era German films. Some would say it's the best of the bunch, & while I would likely pick Nosferatu, I couldn't argue with a person who felt that Caligari was the best of the Weimar era expressionistic films.

Highly influential, it's also likely the most expressionistic in style of all of the surviving German silents. We also get great performances from several stars of the time: the great Conrad Veidt, in what was a very unique role for him (I would have loved to have seen him play Dracula), Werner Krauss, Lil Dagover, & a cameo from Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Metropolis). And while I'm briefly mentioning Metropolis, one issue that comes up repeatedly in David Kallet's commentary is that Fritz Lang was originally going to direct (he was pulled at the last minute to do Spiders part 2 instead), & that he had significant input to the final version.

One other comment about the film that I'm surprised that I've never heard anyone else mention: Veidt's "look" (clear as a bell in this version!) has been highly influential, perhaps iconic; to the point where I could not imagine Robert Smith of the Cure or Bauhaus (the rock band) without Veidt's role in this film.

Back to this amazing home video release. While I've never seen the 2000 Eureka, I assume it's similar to the Kino. And again, the only upgrades I've ever seen that come close to this one are the Murnau foundation's restorations of Metropolis & Nosferatu; & from a picture quality point of view, this one is better. And again, I am reviewing the Dvd, I suspect the Blu is even better! The film seems to average aprox 8mbs, which is very good for a dvd.

One issue that is stated at the beginning of the film is that the Murnau foundation could not find a quality print or negative of the first ½ reel, so an inferior print was used for about the first 6 minutes. I only mention this to avoid you putting in the disc & saying "what drugs was this idiot reviewer on!?" The picture quality gets MUCH better at about the 6 minute mark & largely stays there. There are a few short jumps in places (that is addressed in the restoration featurette), a few places where there are 3 black dots briefly on the bottom of the screen, & a FEW places after the initial 6 minutes where scratching is briefly visible; but largely this has a look of quality that could easily be from the 1950's or later.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to keep my Kino also; it has the surviving parts (at least what survived in 2002) of Director Robert Wiene & art director Walter Rohrig's next film together, Genuine. I am not aware of any other version on home video. I would have liked to have seen that here. I have learned that a museum in Germany has a print of the 89 minute version. Perhaps it could see a future release?

As far as the bonus features,

Probably the most interesting is a 52 minute documentary on WW1 & Weimar culture. I am a fan of the era, & some of the information here was new to me. Unlike most writings I've experienced on the Weimar (end of WW1 - rise to power of the Nazis; around 1919-1931) it tends to minimize the decadence of the period & spends much more time on the impact of WW1 on Germany.

My only complaint about the 9 minute restoration feature is the German Bertelsmann company gets a little too much free advertising for my liking. Apparently, they did pay for a significant portion of the restoration (& I thank them for that) , but........... There is some interesting information on the restoration, especially how they inserted brief segments of inferior prints to cover up missing frames in their master, & then cleaned them up so I at least can't see the insertions at all.

Finally there is a short feature called "You Must Become Caligari" (The main advertising slogan for the film during the 1920 release) that reminds me of a bad comedic Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000 commentary.

Last, David Kallet's exclusive commentary: Kallet tends to be a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge on German film, & I always look forward to his work; to the point where I usually watch these restorations twice: once for the film, & once for the commentary. Kallet's main weakness as a commentator is he tends to drift away from what's occurring on screen, making it difficult to follow both the plot & what he's saying at the same time.

I've seen Calagari numerous times, so I made the mistake of listening to the commentary while I watched this dvd for the first time. Don't do it, watch it at least twice! He wanders even more than usual in this one. While like usual, he shares some interesting information, his main focus was disproving several theories about the framing story at the beginning & at the end of the film (which can totally change the viewer's perception of what's occurring), & also spends a lot of time discrediting the theories of early German film critic (& the author of the once highly influential book, from Caligari To Hitler) Siegfried Kracauer. I tend to agree with Kallet, but having been exposed to much of this material before & due to a somewhat negative tone, I found parts of of the commentary not quite up to DK's usual standards.

To sum up, as I said in the beginning, only one thing really matters: the restoration is nothing short of stunning.

If you're a fan of German expressionist cinema buy this. If you already own & enjoy Calagari, definitely buy this! Don't even think twice. And if you are developing an interest in Expressionistic film & somehow haven't seen Calagari yet, you especially should buy this! It wasn't the first of the great German silent horror films (that honor would seem to go to the 1913 version of Student of Prague) and 1916's Homunculus (which I haven't been able to find with English titles), but it's certainly one of the best!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLU-RAY? YOU BETCHA! A EUREKA MOC FINEST!, 20 Jun 2014
By 
Oh dear, don't think Jaffa has done any homework.
Just look at the (hd) comparison sequences currently online (easily found via usual search engines), and marvel at the astonishing quality of this major restoration by the FW Murnau Foundation. Mainly restored from an original camera negative, it is almost akin to watching the original takes - the image is rock-steady, the detail is incredible and missing frames have been reinserted with all the skill of a professional invisible mender. In short, this is one of the finest early film restorations ever completed, and is an absolute must for fans (and would-be fans) of Caligari, no matter how many other copies you may have.

And if you want to fully appreciate just what an amazing job the Murnau team has done, blu-ray will show it to you - the closest we can currently get in our living rooms to the original nitrate experience. My order is already in. Note: no connection with FWMF or Eureka, though I will confess to an undying love of the achievements of Anke Wilkening at Murnau.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most famous and important silent films, 16 Dec 2008
By 
Barbara Underwood (Tumut, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari [1919] [DVD] (DVD)
Although "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" is one of the best known and important silent films of our time, let me point out right away that this is no guarantee that it will appeal to everyone. For many, it is a particularly heavy, depressing and even dreadful film, but this only proves that it is successful in its Horror genre, as well as its experiment to blend commercial movie narrative with the modern art style of German Expressionism. By all accounts it was very successful, giving inspiration to other directors and actors in later years and still holding its own as a landmark in cinema history.

The first thing that strikes the viewer is that most of the sets are entirely artificial, sculpted or painted in extreme Expressionist style with angular shapes which convey a sense of distress, turmoil and dread - all the qualities one would find in the mentally ill, which is the underlying theme of this story. Just like gestures, make-up and acting styles like pantomime were often used in the silent film medium to express moods, feelings and concepts, so do the Expressionist sets in this film convey a great deal about the characters and story. The famous leading stars, namely Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover and Werner Krauss wear extreme make-up in line with the use of strong light and dark contrasts often used in other German Expressionist films of the 1920s, and their acting style is perfectly suited to the theme and overall atmosphere of the film. It contains all the elements of a disturbing horror film with a mad scientist who has control over a somnambulist - a sleepwalker - to the point of apparently getting him to commit murders for him. When a friend becomes the first victim, Francis - the main character - sets out to help in the investigation and capture of the murderer, but the final outcome is a surprising and perhaps quite satisfying twist which most viewers might not see coming.

The picture quality of this Eureka DVD is extremely good, and the music is simply outstanding. Having viewed literally hundreds of silent films, I can safely say that the musical accompaniment to this silent film is one of the best I've ever heard in terms of expressing the story and visual atmosphere in sounds. Using orchestral instruments, the notes seem to screech, sigh and moan in anguish along with the characters and their distorted surroundings. The overall effect can actually be very mesmerizing and afterwards leaves you feeling as if you've woken up from a very weird dream. After watching it once or twice, one's appreciation of the film will be more enhanced by listening to the audio commentary by an American expert who gives quite an intellectual and thorough explanation of many artistic and social aspects of "Caligari". While this is not a film to be enjoyed as general entertainment in the usual sense, it is nevertheless a special cinematic experience and certainly of value and importance to sincere film and art lovers alike.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous film making, 18 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari [1919] [DVD] (DVD)
Robert Wiene's 1919 classic "Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari" is, in every way, a courageous piece of film making.
The Expressionistic set design, as the backdrop to the story of a mad doctor and his manipulation of a somnambulist, is brilliantly conceived, especially when considering the twist at the end of the film. The sets give the film a definite and appropriate dreamlike quality.
The importance of the film cannot be overstated since it undoubtedly influenced the later Universal monster movies that proliferated in the 30's and 40's as well as later horror films.
It seems certain James Whale was inspired by German Expressionism, if not "The cabinet of Dr Caligari", for the set design on his version of "Frankenstein".
The DVD has been designed to emulate the Expressionism of the film. Good production values and attention to detail with an in-depth audio overview of the film.
This film is essential viewing for anyone interested in early German cinema or the history of horror films but, it is equally valid as an important piece of German Expressionist art.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic silent gothic film, 7 April 2003
By 
G. Ormrod "georgie" (lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This is an amazing silent movie & a classic in the gothic horror genre. It seems like many horror films since it have taken many themes from it.
The plot about a madman who controls a sleepwalker for his misdemenors turns at the end in what at the time must have been an intersting way. Although whilst watching the film now, we can see what turns the plot may take, it is still a materpiece which is well worth buying.
Unlike many silent moveis the acting is not too hammy & the scene and effects are fairly effective.
A masterwork.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand-daddy of horror film, it's artsyfartsy AND quite cool!, 20 Jun 2001
By 
Jake Lange (Galgorm, County Antrim Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari [1919] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film that time nearly forgot, but that truly is the shadowy seed out of which both the horror film and film noir genres have developed over the last 75 years. (Woo-hoo!) But even if you aren't into all that German Expressionist, history of cinema stuff, you should know that this film is HUGELY entertaining in itself, if not even a good bit creepy (in a silent, 1919 sort of a way)! How could a dark story about a murderous sleepwalker, controlled by a demented madman, terrorizing the inhabitants of an old-world European village, centered around an insane asylum not be interesting?!? Not to mention that the film has a real twist/suprise ending... And then there are the visuals! Creepy, dark, jagged images that you could very well end up dreaming about later... For the film buff, this is essential viewing. And for the every-day man, the unknowing post-modern viewer, this is a film that will be a real suprise and treat... including the amazing sight of a german Edward Scissorhands gliding like a spectre across the screen, nearly 40 years before Tim Burton was even born. Not to be missed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The classic German Expressionist horror film of 1919, 16 Feb 2005
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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When we talk about the history of the "movies" it is "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" ("Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari") that has almost always represented the first prime example of the "cinema," where we treat films as art. This is the best example of German Expressionism with angular sets and exaggerated performances by the actors that represented the dementia of the title character. Werner Krauss is the mad doctor, who uses his somnambulist Ceasar (Conrad Veidt) from his carnival sideshow to do his evil deeds, with Lil Dagover is the damsel in distress. The film is framed by a rather clever plot device that turns the narrative upside down in the end, as a young man (Friedrich Feher) tells the story of Dr. Caligari's visit to the small German town of Holstenwall to an older one, as they sit together on a park bench. There is also a strong sense of how the film serves as a metaphor for the destruction of post-war Germany.
Whatever the films shortcomings, the classic status of this 1919 film directed by Robert Wiene is assured by the striking art direction. The abstract, expressionists designs provide severely angled corners, crooked lines, and objects highlighted by decorative stripes. If "Then Battleship Potemkin" opens us up as students of cinema to the possibilities about montage, then "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" does the same for mise-en-scene. The film also establishes many of the conventions of the horror film (e.g., the mad scientist, beauty and the beast), although, surprisingly enough, the basic storyline has never been remade.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great film - terrible version, 16 Nov 2009
By 
This review is from: Cabinet of Dr Caligari [DVD] (DVD)
I love this film and was overjoyed to see it re-released on DVD, thinking it would be better quality than my old version - I was wrong

The film itself is, of course, magnificent, but this version 1) has poor picture and sound quality b) lacks the original expressionist style artistic story inserts (instead has boring black and white normal type ones) and c) does not have the variety of colour washes/tints in my previous version which i think add a lot of atmosphere

pretty much a waste of money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari - 2000 Eureka release - Influential masterpiece, not to be missed, 13 Aug 2010
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari [1919] [DVD] (DVD)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari us a stunning visual masterpiece, with (for the time) an innovative narrative. Many modern film makers owe this film a debt.

The visual style is arresting and disturbing, a triumph of German expressionism. Every set - the whole town, the forest, the asylum - everything is jarringly odd angles. There isn't a right angle to be seen. Think about the backdrops for Tim Burton's `Nightmare before Christmas' and you'll get the idea. It looks, to today's eyes, like the back drop to a cartoon. Back in 1920 it must have been a huge surprise to cinema audiences. As well as the set design is the use of unusual camera shots, odd perspectives, odd lighting that just add to the feeling of a surreal dream.

The story itself is the tale of a man, almost an automaton, whose will is totally subservient to the evil Caligari. It is a template that was copied many times by Hammer with their Frankenstein films. Caligari arrives at a small town fair, with a mysterious cabinet. Inside is Cesare, a somnambulist who has been asleep for 23 years, and is totally controlled by Caligari. In short order a series of mysterious murders are committed, and Cesare, under Caligari's influence, is the obvious suspect.

Throughout the film there are small plot twists and misdirection - there is a copycat murderer who makes Cesare appear guiltless for a while, and how can the hero of the tale, Francis, be watching Cesare doing nothing in Caligari's room when his fiancé is being kidnapped by the said somnambulist? But this is topped off by the big twist at the end. Francis follows Caligari to a lunatic asylum, where it transpires that Caligari is the director, and also quite insane. Then comes the final thrilling twist, the icing on the cake (which I will not spoil here for newbies). This is probably the first instance of the twist ending so beloved of M. Night Shaylaman in film history.

There are learned essays out there that will tell you that the main part of the film is an allegory for the state of Germany at the time of filming, and the history of the beginning and final scenes, which were tacked onto the film later. I've never been too interested in drawing these allusions, and whilst I find it an interesting historical document in terms of film history and development, that takes second place to my enjoyment of it as a rippingly good yarn, and an entertaining and engrossing film.

This version from Eureka is a decent release. The print of the film is more than acceptable. For a film over 90 years old it is in remarkable shape. It is a lot better than some other releases I have seen over the years. There is an interesting musical score, a decent and interesting commentary and a short vampire film directed by Weine as an extra. It's not quite in the same league as Eureka's `Masters of Cinema' series, but it is a pretty good version. All in all a decent release of an absolute classic that every cinema lover who enjoys imaginative twists and disturbing settings will enjoy.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movie ruined by a cheap DVD, 9 Jan 2010
This review is from: Cabinet of Dr Caligari [DVD] (DVD)
Do not buy this copy of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, buy this one instead:
Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari [1919] [DVD]
This version is not remastered or cleaned in anyway, the picture is washed out and the film isn't even stabilised. The Eureka version costs a small bit more but it's worth paying a couple of pounds more to see this movie in a watchable format.
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