With its jagged, stylised sets, menacing shadows and themes of murder, madness and delirium, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) remains the source and essence of German Expressionist cinema. Fusing carnival spectacle with the paranoia of the psychological thriller, it centres on the haunting, sexually ambivalent presence of Conrad Veidt as Cesare - the somnambulist exploited as
an instrument by the sinister Dr. Caligari.
David Robinson challenges long accepted versions of the history and reception of Caligari and redefines its relationship to the larger phenomenon of Expressionist art. His reassessment of the relative contributions of director, designers and writers becomes a fascinating detective story, as he investigates the status and significance of the single surviving copy of the original script, which came to light only in the late 1980s when almost all those involved in the production were dead.
This second edition features a new introduction that considers the place of German Expressionist cinema within the European revival of Gothic at the turn of the twentieth century, and original cover artwork by Ben Goodman.
DAVID ROBINSON is a film critic, historian, author and director of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. His many books include World Cinema: A Short History (1973; 1981) and Chaplin: His Life and Art (1985; 1992; 2001).
Foreword.- 1. The Making of 'Caligari': 'The Story of a Famous Story' Revised.- 2. 'Caligari', the Film.- 3. 'Caligari' in its Time.- 4. The 'Caligari' Legacy.- 5. Appendix: The Two 'Caligaris': A Comparison of the Scenario and the Completed Film.- Notes.- Credits.- Bibliography.