German expressionist film, massively influential. Required viewing for film buffs and horror fans.
It tells the story of an old hypnotist, Dr. Caligari, who entrances a man by the name of Cesare, who is said to have been asleep for 23 years, in order for him to commit murders in the night. The sets are jagged with distorted dimensions that give it a more fictitious dreamlike feel. In the first act the story begins by being told by a man in a mental institution so the German Expressionist style can be interpreted as the warped psyche of this mad man. Twisted and pointed shadows and light were painted directly on to the sets to further the distorted perception. These sets also helped to convey a feeling of unease or the impression of a nightmare which matched the horror plot of the killer on the loose. The costumes of Dr. Caligari and the somnambulist Cesare also reflect this style with exaggerated black clothes and pointed hair and make-up. It’s also worth noting that this is one of the earliest films to have a nonlinear plot with most of the film being the flashback of a character introduced in the beginning and returning to the characters from the first act at the end, now with revealed knowledge of these characters. Something else that makes this film unique is a somewhat twist ending that reveals characters in roles that are unexpected and then a somewhat ambiguous ending.