One of the key works in the development of German Expressionism, an artistic style in which external reality is distorted by the ideas and emotions being explored.  Along with Wiene, its other major exponents included F. W. Murnau (Sunrise) and Fritz Lang (Metropolis).  The style later influenced many Hollywood pictures, such as Frankenstein, which parallels Cabinet’s mad doctor with his creation and female victim.  Halliwell commented:

‘The recycling of these and similar themes in film terms was begun by the Germans during their national depression after losing the First World War… the most interesting figures in this group are the Golem, and Cesare the somnambulist… both are in a sense dead before the action begins, and both were amiably plundered by Hollywood ten years later.’

The style was also seen in nearly every film noir of the 40s, along with Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, and some of Alfred Hitchcock’s early works.

The film also introduced a new term to the cinema: Caligarisme, used by some French writers to indicate the style used in this film, that of flat painted sets, non-naturalistic lighting, and concern with dream imagery.

The film's place in cinema history:
  Assessment from the Film Guide   Other notes by Leslie Halliwell   Quotes from the film   Information on the making of the film    
Year: 1919
Studio: Decla-Bioscop
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