44. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Hey… this is a total copy of Shutter Island

Directed by: Robert Wiene
Written by: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer
Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt and Friedrich Feher

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching Scorcese’s Shutter Island should definitely check out The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari first as an old school (seriously old school) master of the psychological thriller genre. In fact, I’m pretty sure I got more shivers from this movie than Leonardo Di Caprio’s furrowed brows.

Ask Cesare when you'll die and you'll get the most accurate answer ever. No refunds.

Two friends, Francis and Alan, attend a fair to see Dr. Caligari’s fantastical somnambulist Cesare awaken for the first time in 23 years. When Cesare predicts that Alan will only have till dawn to live, and this prophecy turns out to be true, Francis becomes determined to prove that Cesare is the mysterious killer. As a series of murders continue to occur, it is only a matter of time before Alan’s beautiful love, Jane, falls into the creepily long arms of this wide-eyed murderer.

As one of the most influential films in German Expressionism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a silent film that speaks volumes in relation to visual expressions of the macabre, the bizarre and the psychological. With such provocative shapes, lines and use of shadow, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari just goes to show that if a 1920s film can explore the unreal, the unseen and the darkly disturbing into something that is real and intensely felt by the audience, then why the hell can’t we do it now?


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