Das Cabinet Des Dr Caligari  [DVD]
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This classic piece of German expressionist cinema employs stylized sets, costumes and make-up to tell its story from a shifting point of view. Dr Caligari runs a side show at a fair where a somnambulist predicts someone's death and that night the person is murdered. The somnambulist turns out to be a lunatic from a local asylum and Dr Caligari the asylum's insane director.
A milestone of the silent film era and one of the first "art films" to gain international acclaim, this eerie German classic from 1919 remains the most prominent example of German expressionism in the emerging art of the cinema. Stylistically, the look of the film's painted sets--distorted perspectives, sharp angles, twisted architecture--was designed to reflect (or express) the splintered psychology of its title character, a sinister figure who uses a lanky somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) as a circus attraction. But when Caligari and his sleepwalker are suspected of murder, their novelty act is surrounded by more supernatural implications. With its mad-doctor scenario, striking visuals, and a haunting, zombie-like character at its centre, Caligari was one of the first horror films to reach an international audience, sending shock waves through artistic circles and serving as a strong influence on the classic horror films of the 1920s, 30s, and beyond. It's a museum piece today, of interest more for its historical importance, but The Cabinet of Dr Caligari still casts a considerable spell. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.comSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most haunting and clever films ever. It was delivered as promised and very quickly.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent, the settings are Tim burton-esque and once you get past some wordy bits you are hookedPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
The Eureka Blu Ray of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is absolutely stunning. This remastered version really shows the breathtaking imagery as something completely incredible. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Hannah Sutcliffe
Great story, great sets and great actIng. An amazing piece of art that should be seen by everyone.Published 4 months ago by wood
It's very theatrical. Some would find it tedious. But if you like The Blue Rider - Bloch, Campendonk, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Macke,Marke, Munter, von Werekin, et. al. Read morePublished 4 months ago by K. H. Tonge