The Golem (Der Golem; wie er in die Welt kam)
Release Year: 1920
Directors: Paul Wegener, Carl Boese
Writers: Paul Wegener, Henrik Galeen
Stars: Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück, Ernst Deutsch, Lyda Salmonova, Hans Stürm, Max Kronert, Otto Gebühr, Lothar Müthel, Dore Paetzold, Greta Schröder, Loni Nest
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #224, week 40 2018
In 16th Century Prague, the famous Rabbi Loew creates a Golem and brings in to life to protect the Jewish community from persecution.
In the 1920s Germany was were it was happening as far as filmmaking was concerned. The style known as German Expressionism produced a number of great talents and unforgettable horror films as a result. On of the lesser known examples is The Golem by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese. The story is simple and straight forward but its weirdly off-tilter scenografi and evocative violin driven musical score, the film strikes a mesmerizing note. The film’s great attraction is its eponymous creature. The Golem appears after a really well-crafted spell casting scene and i played by writer/director Paul Wegener to great effect. His mechanical movements, expressive yet stilted face, and great costume and make-up makes the film worth a watch almost 100 years later. The supporting cast is not particularly strong but Albert Steinrück (Helen of Troy, 1924) makes a strong impression and historic figure Rabbi Loew. After the slow start the film culminated in a dramatic climax that while striking some horror notes still leaves an impression more akin to dark fantasy than outright horror, but then again, times were different then.
Not the best example of German Expressionism but a good one and a good horror film with a pervading “old world” atmosphere. Recommended to fans of old horror movies.
NB: The trailer is mostly a recap of the movie. Spoilers abound!
The cinematographer on the film was the great Karl Freund, who later shot classics such as Metropolis (1927), Dracula (1931), and Key Largo (1948).
Paul Wegener had previously made the film The Golem (1915) about the legend and the 1920 version is a prequel (hence the subtitle “How He Came into th World”), but this is by far the most well-known due to the fact that it is only one that has survived.
This second take on the story is meant to more accurate convey the legend of the Golem as it was told to Wegener in Prague while filming The Student of Prague (1913).