The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

1h 7m / Not Rated / Silent, Suspense

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari recounts the story of the mysterious mesmerist, Dr. Caligari, and his somnambulist, Cesare (whose pale complexion and dark circles under his eyes would set the standard look for movie zombies). After their arrival in town, mysterious murders begin to occur and Francis, a local villager, suspects Cesare. When Francis’s girlfriend is kidnapped by Cesare, it becomes obvious that Dr. Caligari is programming the sleepwalker to carry out his murderous commands. Francis pursues Caligari to a mental asylum where Caligari is arrested and put into a straitjacket. But the conclusion provides a twist ending that forces audiences to reconsider everything they have just witnessed.

One of the most influential films of all time, Caligari is generally acknowledged as the first German Expressionist film. Producer Erich Pommer originally offered the film to director Fritz Lang, who turned it down. It has also been reported that Lang made two important suggestions to Pommer; he recommended that Robert Weine direct the film and that a framing device be used to make the film more accessible to German audiences. The result was an unsettling, nightmarish experience which was labeled “degenerate art” by the Nazis. While many movies during this time tended toward documentary-like objectivism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari showed that a film could portray the subjective as well, opening up new realms of psychological exploration.

This special presentation will feature a new 4k restoration of the 1920 film, accompanied by an original score written and performed live by Steven Ball – Tampa Theatre’s artist-in-residence – on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. 

Nightmare series 2023 logo

CLICK HERE for the rest of the 2023 “A Nightmare on Franklin Street” series lineup