Released in 1920, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is now widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever produced and is cited as one of the finest examples of the German Expressionist style of film making. Over 90 years later, Caligari looks as good as it ever has, thanks to a brand new digital restoration, just released on blu-ray by Kino Lorber.
Before seeing this blu-ray, I had seen the movie before, but I quickly realized that I hadn’t really seen it. Anytime I’ve seen the movie, it was a public domain version with none of the beautiful colored tinting and without a noteworthy musical score. Being able to see it the way it was meant to be seen was really a revelation. Caligari has such a striking visual style that its impact isn’t completely lost even if you’re watching a lesser print. But the colored tinting and the addition of a much better score really added a lot to the whole experience. The restoration was done mostly using the original camera negative and it looks incredible. The end result is simply stunning; the most beautiful nightmare I have ever seen. The picture is so crisp and clear, it’s very easy to forget that it was filmed over 90 years ago.
The blu-ray includes the documentary “Caligari: How Horror Came to the Cinema,” restoration demos, an image gallery, trailers for other Kino Lorber releases, and an additional musical score by DJ Spooky. Overall, it’s a first-rate release for a movie that truly deserves the royal treatment.
Note: I received a review copy from Kino Lorber, which does not influence my overall opinion of this release.