On February 26, 1920, the German silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, was released to the public. It’s been 100 years since viewers have witnessed the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss: Hamlet) who uses a somnambulist (an individual who sleepwalks) (Conrad Veidt: The Man Who Laughs 1928), to commit murders. That concept is quite fascinating if you think about it. The sleepwalker actually doesn’t even know! What a psychological twist of fate! “While I’m at it, why don’t I just kill you while I’m sleeping?”
So creepy but exciting. It’s like one of those horror films that uses your brain into concentrating on the task at hand and not the actual violence of the murders. If that’s possible? Maybe…
One thing is for certain, this film is one of the most influential horror films of all time. According to The Independent, “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz in the aftermath of the First World War, with its influences laid bare in the film’s characters: Caligari is a symbol of the German war government, while the somnambulist is a representation of everyday people who were conditioned to kill as soldiers.”
The film is to be considered the work of German Expressionist cinema. This expressionism is related to the movements in Germany before the First World War that rose to the highest times in Berlin during the roaring 20’s. According to the writers of the film, “the script was inspired by actual experiences from their lives.” One might question the darkness that interfered people’s lives during this time of turmoil. It was like they lived in their own nightmare under a lock and key.
The film is considered “brutal” and “deranged.” Well, what do you want from a character who is so psychotic to the point that he can make someone else murder others without even realizing his own crimes? Scary if you ask me… for the killer. The true antagonist was the hypnotist. “It’s all in the mind,” most say. A psychological warfare in his own brain.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is available to watch for free on YouTube and Amazon Prime.