Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (Masters of Cinema) review

New 4K restoration helps this classic early horror shine brighter than ever!

Director Robert Wiene's 1920 silent movie recounts the tale of the titular carnival hypnotist and the somnambulist he uses to kill for him. While the plot may appear fairly simple, Wiene's film infuses each frame of the story with a nightmarish quality, running from the overtly theatrical performances to his pioneering use of an Expressionist aesthetic – the latter creating a blatantly artificial landscape, full of harsh jagged angles, that serves to exaggerate the psychological terror. Utterly captivating.

Picture: Sourced from a brand-new 4K restoration of the original camera negative undertaken by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung (with missing material reconstituted from other sources), this Blu-ray's 1.33:1 1080p imagery is a revelation.

Yes, there are still scratches to be found in the image, but the sharpness and clarity is leagues ahead of any previous version. The overall sense of freshness is aided by the unexpected vibrancy of the colour tinting. We never imagined that Wiene's horror could look this good.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: The longer running time of this presentation of Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari means that Eureka! hasn't been able to include the Timothy Brock score that many fans will be familiar with from the label's original DVD release (nor any of the multitude of others produced over the decades). Thankfully, while very different, the new score proves equally atmospheric and appears in both LPCM 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD MA 5.1 incarnations – the latter makes surprisingly expansive use of the larger soundstage.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Film historian David Kalat provides an audio commentary that's on a par with the fascinating one he recorded for the label's earlier Nosferatu Blu-ray. Further analysis of the flick can be found in the 53-minute Caligari: The Birth of Horror in the First World War and the 16-minute You Must Become Caligari, a video essay by critic David Cairns that is slightly lighter in tone (yet no less rigorous in its analysis) and perhaps added as a riposte to some of the more contentious statements made in the first documentary. Rounding out the Blu-ray extras are a nine-minute piece on the restoration of the film and the re-release trailer.

The set also includes a DVD copy and a beautifully illustrated 44-page booklet featuring an essay on Expressionist film and an archival review.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: A stunning hi-def presentation for one of the classics of silent horror. Simply unmissable.

Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari, Eureka! – The Masters of Cinema Series, Region B BD/R2 DVD, £23 Approx