Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, Ger.)

In Robert Wiene's classic and influential silent film:

  • the expressionist cinematography and the distorted, jagged, angular sets
  • the tale (the film's entire story) told in flashback, by Francis (Friedrich Feher) - a tale of the strange sufferings and horrible events that he had experienced
  • the promotion of mad and sinister Dr. Caligari's (Werner Krauss) "spectacle" attraction at the fair with a life-sized poster - a sleeping somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt), who was revealed and awakened in a box-shaped cabinet or coffin, and prophetically told fortunes to audience members
  • the stabbing death of Francis' friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) by a shadowy figure
  • the abduction of Francis' 'fiancee' Jane Olsen (Lil Dagover) by Cesare, and the chase by a mob across rooftops and down alleyways
Abduction Sequence
  • the shocking discovery by Francis that Dr. Caligari was the insane director of a mental institution, and that he was obsessed with imitating a 18th century mystic (of the same name) who sent out his somnambulist Cesare to commit murder
  • the twist ending -- the entire film (a framed story with a flashback) was made up from the mad ramblings and delusions of Francis, the mentally-ill narrator/story-teller of the film while he was seated in the asylum courtyard; Francis' doctor was the benevolent and respected Dr. Caligari!

Dr. Caligari

With Cesare

Twist Ending


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