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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Special Collector's Edition)

4.3 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews

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(Oct 15, 1997)
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Special Collector's Edition
$22.29 $3.64
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This milestone film, known for its expressionistic sets and techniques, tells the strange tale of a sleepwalker under the spell of the mysterious and evil Dr. Caligari.


A milestone of the silent film era and one of the first "art films" to gain international acclaim, this eerie German classic from 1919 remains the most prominent example of German expressionism in the emerging art of the cinema. Stylistically, the look of the film's painted sets--distorted perspectives, sharp angles, twisted architecture--was designed to reflect (or express) the splintered psychology of its title character, a sinister figure who uses a lanky somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) as a circus attraction. But when Caligari and his sleepwalker are suspected of murder, their novelty act is surrounded by more supernatural implications. With its mad-doctor scenario, striking visuals, and a haunting, zombie-like character at its center, Caligari was one of the first horror films to reach an international audience, sending shock waves through artistic circles and serving as a strong influence on the classic horror films of the 1920s, '30s, and beyond. It's a museum piece today, of interest more for its historical importance, but Caligari still casts a considerable spell. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • and an excerpt from Genuine aka "Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire"

Product Details

  • Actors: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
  • Directors: Robert Wiene
  • Writers: Carl Mayer, Hans Janowitz
  • Producers: Erich Pommer, Rudolf Meinert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 15, 1997
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305075492
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,816 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Special Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I'm not going to spend time raving about the movie, because I'm going to assume that if you've got this far you already know how wonderful it is. What I think could be far more useful (as this is an area where I have been burned) is some comparison between the two DVD editions I know of.

I have copies of both the Kino Video edition and the Image Entertainment edition. My preference is for Image Entertainment for the following reasons:

(1) The print seems slightly cleaner (and most helpfully, the DVD packaging warns you about the horizontal line across the top of some scenes which is a defect on the original film)

(2) The intertitles on Image use the correct expressionistic style as per the 1920 release. from what I recall, Kino's are the 'normalised' printed intertitles from 1923.

(3) The Kino version has possibly the most insensitive layer transition location I have ever come across. For reasons of their own Kino put an intertitle before the final sequence in the asylum, and it would have been a natural place for a layer transition. Instead they put it a few seconds into the final sequence (and only a couple of minutes before the end of the film!). Image has no layer transition.

(4) Both scores on the Kino version are dreadful. One consists of strange electronic noises, while the 'orchestral' one is pretty inappropriate. Instead Image chose a very nice specially composed score by Timothy Brock which is a remarkably effective pastiche in the style of Alban Berg (very appropriate for an expressionist film).

(5) Image has a commentary track; it's not clear that Kino does (I can't remember, but certainly it isn't mentioned in the blurb on the back).
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Format: DVD

I'm lumping several editions of this film in a single review so it would appear on all Amazon product pages of this film. The editions I'm reviewing are:

2014 Kino Region-A Blu-ray (ASIN: B00N5ND6PU) and Region-1 DVD (ASIN: B00N5ND88U)
2014 Eureka Region-B Blu-ray/DVD combo (Amazon UK ASIN: B00KT67Q0W)
2002 Kino all-region NTSC DVD (ASIN: B00006JMQG)
1997 Image all-region NTSC DVD (ASIN: 6305075492)

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a visually stunning German silent film that tells the story of a mad doctor who trains a sleepwalker to commit evil deeds. It was a groundbreaking film in many ways, such as its use of an unreliable narrator as a framing device, and its expressionistic images resembling one's nightmare (or the mind state of a mentally-ill person) -- distorted views, deformed spaces, bizarre lights and shadows. This film, in 1920, ushered in a new era of German Expressionism on film, a period that produced such classics as The Last Laugh, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and others.

There have been many public domain copies of "Caligari" sold in stores and online, or available free to view online. Many of them use plain, static intertitles and have running times as short as 51 minutes. The only versions worth seeing are the four I'm reviewing here due to their completeness of footage used (with running time over 70 minutes), the use of stylized intertitles, and, of course, improved picture quality.

Currently, the best edition for North America is the 2014 Region-A Blu-ray from Kino (ASIN: B00N5ND6PU). A corresponding Region-B Blu-ray is also available from Eureka for European customers (Amazon UK ASIN: B00KT67Q0W).
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Format: DVD
Amazon does NOT differentiate its reviews of titles (be it book/DVD's/vhs etc) by this or that edition by any of the many companies that release them....so your review of the cheapy public domain Alpha dvd(to name just one of the several CRAP distributors of old movies)and the words you write about the restored fine print Kino International(to name one of the very excellent distributors of old movies)will be all on the same page, WHATEVER version you have selected!!

Having said that , my review is of the KINO dvd release , a very fine one as this company does not distribute anything less(you pay more, but if you know anything about silent and classic movies it will be no secret to you that if you pay peanuts that is exactly what you will get....)...it is however disconserting to see that even the best available dvd release still hasn't been cleaned up to the degree that other classic silent masterpieces have..surely with todays technology a digital "hoovering" of this film is not too much to ask.

Wonderful film of course, but you know that otherwise you wouldn't even be reading these reviews, and the KINO version is , so far, the best you can get for your money.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'd like to add my two cent's worth here. Not going in to the film itself, I just want to discuss the 2 main versions out there, the Image "Special Collector's Edition" disc from about 10 years ago and the new Kino "Restored Authorized Edition". I watched both side to side (2 TVs & 2 DVD players)

Despite some raves about the Kino version (which I can't really understand), the Image version wins hands down. Kino, which normally puts out a superior product whatever movie they are releasing, I believe really dropped the ball with this one. For one, they went totally overboard with tinting...most scenes now appear to be a deep, dark blue, and the black areas have a weird, mottled, speckley, "wavy" look, like TV reception that isn't quite coming in. Granted, this is mostly only really bad during the first reel, in the opening garden scene, improving slightly as the film goes on, but it's still annoying.

The Image disc, by comparision, is brightly lit, scenes being either a "regular" grey like you see on the usual b/w silent film, or an amberish tint that still shows up fine. The entire Kino version just seems too dark & murky. The intertitles of both are in that funky, abstract font, but each has slightly different wording for the same scenes (and I don't know which is actually more accurate to the original, but both convey basically the same information). For example, one may say "Listen while I tell you a story" while the other says "I will now tell you a story" (I made both those up, but it was to get the idea across!). However, the intertitles on the Kino version are, again, much darker than the Image disc. Also, the Image print in general just seems much sharper & clearer than the Kino, and the musical score is much better & more fitting.
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