Trivia / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

  • Executive Meddling: The Twist Ending was originally the idea of a studio exec (sometimes credited as Fritz Lang himself), and it arguably makes the movie much more uncomfortable. Supposedly after screenings, a man would come out and reassure the audience that everything was going to be alright. Word of God stated that the film was supposed to represent what people in power could force others to do against their will, leaving them unresponsive shells who were a slave to the whims of those in power. Many historians view the changed ending as a sign that the audiences of the time weren't comfortable with the idea of questioning authority, even if that authority was corrupt and instigated them to do horrible things — a foreboding portent of things to come.
    • Fritz Lang claimed credit for the Framing Story, and was originally supposed to direct the film. From his perspective, the ending was merely an attempt to ground the nightmarish setting in some believable reality and the ending wasn't dictated by censorship or meddling. The interpretation that the end foreshadows later events or subservience to authority comes from sociologist Siegried Kracauer who Lang, himself an anti-Nazi exile, mocked for his one-note misreading of Weimar-era films.
    • The tonal shift is stark, however, turning the Twist Ending into what can seem like an Ass Pull.
  • Viral Marketing: One of the earliest examples, with posters reading "Du mußt Caligari werden!" ("You must be Caligari!"), with no explanation of who Caligari was or why the reader must become him, plastered all over German cities in the lead-up to the film's release.