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Critics reviews
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Robert Wiene Germany, 1920
One of the pinnacles of Expressionist art and essential viewing in any version. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI looks and feels like a nightmare: the imagery is striking and seems symbolic even when it isn’t; the plot follows a bizarre-yet-consistent logic.
July 15, 2016
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THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is the definitive German Expressionist film, one in which all the elements of the mise-en-scene (lighting, set design, costume design, makeup, props, the movement of figures within the frame, etc.) have been deliberately distorted and exaggerated for expressive purposes.
July 10, 2015
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What if film could project what was inside of us: our emotions, fantasies and fears? This was the breakthrough of Caligari, carrying the larger movement of German Expressionism into the cinematic realm, while unleashing a new strain of filmmaking with an intensely subjective power not seen before: the horror movie.
November 01, 2014
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Little effort has been made to align form and content as a means to reveal how Hermann Warm’s vertiginous sets, as emblems of non-normative time and space, synthesize with the film’s more rudimentary narrative of doubling to achieve radically luminous social ends… A film-by-committee, but, even so, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari remains cinema’s preeminent embodiment of dream-screen anguish.
October 27, 2014
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Lang is the natural inheritor of this, the influence down the decades encompasses everything from Frankenstein to Spellbound to Amadeus to Mulholland Drive. The zigzagging road leads to a mental asylum — the embodiment of sinister authority, a dungeon disguised as sanatorium, or that chamber of projected visions known as cinema?
October 07, 2014
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It still looks totally amazing. Reams have been written and should continue to be written on the captivating stylistic scenery. Hermann Warm, Walter Röhrig and Walter Reimann’s production design presents a world of sharp angles where houses tip towards each other, knives are icicle blades and villains cast huge Dickensian shadows. The exaggerated, largely cold and sinister look of all subjects and objects is the first hint that we just might be inside someone’s nightmare.
August 28, 2014
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Among the silent film genres, German expressionism seems to have dated the least when experienced today – perhaps because so many of its foremost practitioners came to America and helped to perfect the Hollywood aesthetic. But oddly enough… Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a strange exception to that, as it indulges in an elaborate theatricality both in its visual design and its performances – so much so that at times it feels as if it belongs in another universe entirely.
January 01, 2002
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Aided and abetted by one of Carl Mayer’s best scripts and remarkable, distorted sets painted by Hermann Warm, Walter Röhrig, and Walter Reimann, this is more than just a textbook classic; the narrative frame creates ambiguities that hold certain elements of the story in disturbing suspension. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
January 01, 1985
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