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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
(Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Das)

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is the most brilliant example of German Expressionism. The angular settings and exaggerated makeup emphasize the bizarre world occupied by the mad Caligari. The film’s cramped, off-center and uneasy world is perfectly communicated to the viewer. It is a plunge into the mind of insanity that severs all ties with the rational world. Throughout the story the imagery of instability parades forth with twisted streets, over-hanging buildings and distorted scenery. The result is alien, unique and powerfully oblivious to the usual movie techniques – an impressive statement given the devastation of Germany after the First World War.

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is a tale of a mysterious showman who arrives in a small European town at the time of its annual fair. He intends to amaze the crowds with a genuine somnambulist who knows the past and sees the future. That same night, a series of bizarre murders begins to take place. Francis and Alan go to see Dr. Caligari‘s show, and the somnambulist Cesare predicts that Alan will be dead by dawn, which actually happens. Francis suspects that Cesare and Caligari have something to do with Alan‘s death. He follows Caligari´s track to an insance asylum. When Francis goes to see the head of the asylum, he realizes that it is Caligari himself. Finally, Caligari is exposed as a madman, and Francis, helped by attendants from the asylum, arrests Caligari.

This is the film as it would have ended, had it not been for the producer Erich Pommer. He added a final sequence, which was entirely new at the time. In the end, the viewer realizes that the madman is not Caligari, but Francis, and that Caligari is his doctor. The story of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI unfolds in a flashback as related by Francis to another patient. 


Stéphane Fromageot

2011 new score, rev. 2014
  large orchestra (from 46 Musicians)    
2+1/pic.2.1+1/bcl.2 – 4.2.2+btrbn.0 – timp.2perc – 2hp – strings
sync fps