The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 1996

download word file, 2 pages 4.0

The essay is a critique of the movie


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, and

directed by Robert Weine. It was produced in 1919 by Erich Pommer for Decla-Bioscop.

1919 was a year in which the movie industry was transformed into a giant industry.

Although the movie was produced in 1919, it was not released in the United States until

1921. A time when film makers were out to prove that film was indeed art. In the year

1921 525 films were released out of those 525, 50 still exist today, one of those 50 is The

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. At the time of its release in America, horror films were virtually

unheard of because filmakers felt that the subject matter was tasteless or even repulsive,

not to mention difficult to adjust to the silent screen.

The first horror film on record was

Frankenstein in 1910. Elements from Frankenstein are evident in The Cabinet of Dr.


When the demonic somnambulist Cesare creeps into Lil Dagover's bedchamber, director

Robert Wiene was exploiting a fear common to us all. Prone and sleeping the woman is

uttlerly helpless. She is carried off into the expressionist labyrinth that Wiene used to

symbolize the darkest torments of the human mind and soul. A beautiful woman is carried

off by evil, a play on the Beauty and the Beast themes that would become so popular in

horror films.

Used expressionism, films that explored dream, nightmare and psyche and that found their

narrative shape determined less by action than emotion. Used angular sets and heavy

shadows to develop a macabre and horrific atmosphere for its tale of murder and madness.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari intentionally uses sets that look artificial.