The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

This silent masterpiece from the 1920s may contain the first twist ending in a film ever. A man, sitting in the park with a friend, recounts the horrific story of the insane Dr. Caligari and his zombie-esque somnambulist (a sleepwalker), who wreak havoc on a town, murder his best friend and kidnap the love his life. As the story becomes wildly more convoluted and incredible, we realize that it is actually our unreliable narrator who is crazy; the institutionalized man is using inmates from around the asylum where he dwells (including his doctor, Caligari) to populate his fantasy. The German Expressionist aesthetic of the film is used to great thematic effect, as well: it features extremely theatrical, stylized set design in the "flashback" sequences as a means to mirror the narrator's unhinged mind and give clues to the unreality of the story. This is the one that started it all.

Comments

11 Comments so far

  1. Sam on August 12, 2012 12:14 AM

    What about the usual suspects??? No list of twist endings can be complete without that!!!!

  2. Jeff Ching on August 10, 2012 12:37 AM

    In saying over and over again that "Matchstick Men" is one of the most criminally under-rated movies of all time, seeing it left out of this list of best twist endings further proves my point. It was so unpredictable, shocking, brilliant, yet served a purpose in changing the protagonist's life, leading to a surprisingly upbeat ending.

  3. Ryan O on August 8, 2012 3:38 PM

    My god that was one seriously shocking and twisted ending.

  4. Ryan O on August 8, 2012 3:37 PM

    I have to say, i heard about Norman Bates before i watched the movie. in the middle of the movie i was thinking to myself, 'how is norman considered a great slasher villain if the mother was killing people?!" the ending answered that question ambitiously.

  5. Ryan O on August 8, 2012 3:34 PM

    "Luke, i am your father!" How is that not a crazy twisted, shocking ending?!

  6. Ryan O on August 8, 2012 3:33 PM

    Inception had heart pounding ending, that's for sure. But i don't think it was a twisted ending cause i still had questions in the end.

  7. Ryan O on August 8, 2012 3:31 PM

    The end was a nasty moment, but i couldn't help but laugh.

  8. Ryan Orizabal on August 8, 2012 3:30 PM

    Seven definitely had an wild twisted ending that kept my heart pumping. I do not see it coming!

  9. Mike on August 8, 2012 12:03 PM

    I remember the first time I saw Fight Club it blew my mind.

  10. Manni S on August 7, 2012 3:46 PM

    Shutter Island too!

  11. Will on August 7, 2012 2:16 PM

    How can Saw 1 not be on this list ? Only reason I keep going back to watch the rest of them is how the first one ended.

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