Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, or The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, is revolutionary. Considered the first example of horror cinema (released in 1920, before Nosferatu and other early classics) and one of the earliest science fiction films, before Metropolis but after Le Voyage dans la Lune, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari has had a profound effect on genre cinema, television, and popular culture in general. But even away from its great influence, this German Expressionist classic is simply a fantastic film.
This is because The Cabinet of Dr Caligari contains what is considered the first ever twist ending in cinema. In a climate where every other movie needs some sort of twist these days, it is easy to forget how revolutionary this is. Likewise, it is one of the earliest instances of a frame story and flashback. Essentially, the filmmaking community owes this film a great debt for creating some of the genre’s most popular tropes.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is re-released today, now fully restored and with a new soundtrack. While the grainy, low quality footage of silent-era film is part of its charm, the restored footage now looks absolutely stunning, with an incredible amount of effort put into the project. The image is crisp and of a quality similar to new releases, with the complex beauty of the set design now in full, intimate focus. It is an incredible undertaking, and one which deserves to be seen.