One of most important contributions to German Expressionist cinema, the 1920 version of Der Golem is a must-see for lovers of Weimar Cinema as well as the perfect introduction to this classic era of film-making to the uninitiated.
In the Jewish ghetto in 16th Century Prague, the community leader and astrologer Rabbi Löw’s (Albert Steinrück) foresees doom for his people written in the stars. A short time later the Emperor Luhois (Otto Gebühr) issues an expulsion order to the people of the ghetto and they are to leave the city. In an attempt to save his people, Löw creates a forbidding clay golem (Paul Wegener) that he brings to life with the assistance of a demon spirit and an amulet placed in the centre of the creature’s chest. Subsequently the Golem saves the Emperor’s life and the order is rescinded.
Initially the Golem does nothing but good, but changes after Löw’s assistant Famulus (Ernst Deutsch) uses the creature to ward off Count Florian (Lothar Müthel), who is competing with him for the affections of the Rabbi’s daughter Miriam (Lyda Salmonova). Famulus tries to remove the amulet and to return the Golem to rest, but fails as the enraged creature embarks on a trail of destruction, burning Löw’s house and making off with Miriam; the whole community is threatened.
Carl Eduard Hermann Boese was born in Berlin on August 26th 1887. After studying theatre and philosophy in Berlin and Leipzig, and serving in WWI – where he was severely wounded –, he worked as an influential film critic and finally made his directorial debut in 1917. Boese quickly established himself as one of the most successful directors of the time, though he constantly shifted between genres and therefore didn’t develop a distinctive style. Among his films were melodramas like “Verschleppt” or “Seelenverkäufer”, the expressionism-influenced work “Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam”, and the socially aware “Kinder der Straße”.
But Boese was also responsible for the despicable racist propaganda film “Die schwarze Schmach”, which was forbidden in 1922. From 1926 to 1929, Boese had his own production company Carl Boese Film GmbH, and from 1930 on, he directed a string of highly successful military comedies.
With the introduction of sound, Boese – who had now specialized… read more
Paul Wegener (11 December 1874 – 13 September 1948) was a German actor, writer and film director known for his pioneering role in German expressionist cinema.
Stage and early film career
At the age of 20 Wegener decided to end his law studies and concentrate on acting, touring the provinces before joining Max Reinhardt’s acting troupe in 1906. In 1912, he turned to the new medium of motion pictures and appeared in the 1913 version of The Student of Prague. It was while making this film that he first heard the old Jewish legend of the Golem and proceeded to adapt the story to film, co-directing and co-writing the script with Henrik Galeen. His first version of the tale The Golem (1915, now lost) was a success and firmly established Wegener’s reputation. In 1917, he made a parody of the story called Der Golem und die Tänzerin, but it was his reworking of the tale, The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920) which stands as one of the classics of German cinema and helped to… read more
Evocative and atmospheric early German horror film is a prime example of German Expressionist cinema, telling the story of a Rabbi who creates a clay monster, or Golem, to protect the Jewish people from growing anti-Semitic sentiment. However, when his task is done, he refuses to return to his inanimate state, and runs amok, creating havoc. Perhaps hokey by today's standards, but still impressively staged.
An intrepid reporter pursues a mad killer through scenarios culled from Poe and RL Stevenson in this German horror romp.