In one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari's visit. When the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed seems to be the outgrowth of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover). Francis suspects Caligari, but he is ignored by the police. Investigating on his own, Francis seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders, but the story eventually takes a more surprising direction. Caligari's Expressionist style ultimately led to the dark shadows and sharp angles of the film noir urban crime dramas of the 1940s, many of which were directed by such German émigrés as Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
This is an amazing movie, one of the greatest I've seen from the silent era. However, the first time I saw it, in a film class in college, the copy we watched was in black and white. The version blockbuster offers has been very poorly color-tinted, which took away from the film. If you can find a black and white version, watch it instead.
This was my first silent film. I enjoyed it even though it was a bit hard to follow without audible conversation. I liked being able to add my own imagination to what was going on. There were scripts now and then but they were often just a few sentences or descriptions. You really had to pay attention to what was going on. Modern films dont always require that.
It wasnt very scary by todays standards respectively but I bet it made a few ladies faint in 1919. The sets were very odd and creepy being sharply pointed and slanting. This added to the feeling of "things are not right" . Shadow was used to create anticipation and for the more "gory" parts. And the twist at the end was not foreseeable by any means.
This was a neat little view into the past...