The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Director: Robert Wiene
Year Released: 1920
Rating: 3.0

Odious Dr. Caligari takes prized "somnambulist" Cesare around with him as a part of a "fair" of freak shows - later, a few individuals end up being brutally murdered and everyone becomes suspicious of the "good doctor" and his pasty-faced mime cohort. Allusions to Hitler's physician-psychotics notwithstanding, this is quite a formidable work - its only noticeable flaw is its tendency to utilize restrain where it should "cut loose" (see: Lang's Metropolis) - and I am not out of line saying that it has perhaps the greatest set design of any film ever made (Blade Runner was made with advanced technology and a colossal budget - Wiene's walls are made of cardboard and papier-mâché); this is sad, of course, because it's been many a decade since 1920. The doors are cut at odd angles, there's no real definition as to where one road ends and another begins, the inhabits of this "world" are utterly freakish and unsettling - it's Escher reworked by Dali, and deservedly influential.