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In short, this German Expressionist, classical silent film tells the story of the deranged Dr. Caligari, who, with the help of a somnambulist named Cesare, terrorizes a north German village. Caligari displays Cesare, suffering from a strange trance-like sickness, as a carnival attraction during the day. There the tall, thin, pale sleep-walker predicts the future of the onlookers. In the night however, under the sway of his master, Cesare creeps through the city committing horrible murders. One night a young man is killed. His demise had been prophesied by Cesare and the young man’s friend, Francis, suspects that Dr. Caligari has something to do with the crime.
When Francis’ girlfriend, Jane, is threatened and kidnapped by Cesare, suspicion turns to certainty. An angry mob hunts for the escaping doctor. Francis corners Caligari in the local insane asylum and discovers that the doctor is the director of the asylum. In a sudden plot twist it is revealed that Francis, who has been narrating the story, is an inmate in the asylum.