Golem, Der
	
		
				
			
	
	




	
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Golem, Der

Language:

German   Country: Germany   Year: 1915

Golem, Der
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Director:

Henrik Galeen; Paul Wegener

Starring:

Paul Wegener

Genres:

Monster

Synopsis:

One of the most important works of early German Expressionist Cinema. A 16th century Rabbi brings a clay statue to life to aid the persecuted Jews. Black & White. Silent.

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User Reviews

 

(Average=4.62 out of 5; Total Number=13)


Yet Another Fine DVD Release From Kino (rating=4)

The Golem is a terrific film from the silent era. The story is compelling, the setting is marvellous, and the look of the film overall is perfect for a story such as this. I won't bore everyone with a summary, but merely say that this film is for anyone who likes gothic horrors/thillers and maybe has an interest in reliogious issues.
Kino's DVD is the finest version of the film yet. Not all films are given the treatment that Metropilis recently got, but the restoration done of The Golem is quite nice. I can't say I care much for the colour tinting, but that's a small quibble. The music composed for the film is appropriate, but not great. Certainly not as good as the very fine scores written by Timothy Brock for Kino's releases of Faust and The Last Laugh - I wonder what he could have done.
In any case, The Golem is worth adding to your collection if you like silent classics and supernatural thillers. I wouldn't rank it as high as Lang or Murnau's work, but it IS a terrific film.

The Golem (rating=4)

Wow.
Even on budget dvd (spotty print quality, meaningless background music) watching Paul Wegener's 1920 THE GOLEM is quite an experience.
It's 16th century Prague and the stars imply, and the Emperor impels, an eviction of the ghetto Jews. Their crimes - practicing the black arts, despising Holy Christian ceremonies, etc. In desperation Rabbi Loew, nominal leader of the ghetto, invokes the dread spirit Astaroth to reveal the magic word that will bring the Golem to life.
The Golem is a large clay figure in the form of a man. This faithful servant of Rabbi Loew's possesses superhuman strength and seems invulnerable - daggers bend and break rather than penetrate its skin. It accompanies Rabbi Loew to the Emperor's palace on a mission to have the edict revoked, and the Golem is instrumental in accomplishing that goal.
Of course, the movie reminds us of the dictum that should be engraved on the hearts of all mad scientists everywhere - "If you have brought the dead to life through magic, beware that life." The last third of the movie shows what happens when Man's creation stop obeying the will of their creators.
For me, the big hurdle to clear when watching silent movies is to realize they're NOT over acting. Without sound, emotions have to be expressed with some exaggeration. If you're afraid, eyes pop and mouth gapes and curled fingers cover your face. With sound that type of acting looks ridiculous. This is the second silent movie I've watched recently, and it's getting easier. The acting here is fine.
It's amazing how familiar everything looks. The sets, with walls cantered at weird angles and their organic architecture (there's a spiral stone staircase that seems to have been carved from standing rock), would fit comfortably in a Tim Burton movie. I've seen the painted starscape and arched gables in Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. The Golem busts down the ghetto gate just like King Kong, and confronts the little blonde girl in the same manner as Karloff did in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
I imagine all this was a lot scarier then than it is now, but it's still well worth everyone's time. If the score and print quality had been higher, I would have given this one five stars.

The Inspiration For Frankenstein. (rating=5)

THE GOLEM is one of those movies that many people have seen stills from or have read about but up until now have not the opportunity to see it as it was intended to be seen. Copies of it have been around for years but as was often the case with silent films until recently, it was available only in poor quality prints projected at the wrong speed with inappropriate or no music background at all. This new Kino DVD remedies that situation and is likely to be the best edition we're likely to see for some time. The story concerns a Jewish ghetto in 16th century Prague which is saved by the creation of a clay man who is brought to life and becomes their protector. After his task is finished, he refuses to return to clay and runs amok until he is finally vanquished by the hands of a child. This is a remake of an earlier film which also featured writer and co-director Paul Wegener as the creature. Much of the Golem legend would be used by Mary Shelley in FRANKENSTEIN and this movie would be recycled by James Whale and Boris Karloff for the famous 1931 film. It is fascinating to watch this film today not only for its highly stylised sets and striking cinematography but also for its positive portrayal of Jewish life which was possible in 1920 Germany but not 13 years later. This is by far and away the best version of this film that I have seen. It is still a little washed out in places but the restored tinting helps to minimize that. Most of the print is sharp and clear with the stylised details quite vivid especially in the ghetto scenes. The newly composed soundtrack by Aljoscha Zimmermann incorporates Jewish melodies with folk dance material and is very effective. This is one of four new releases in Kino's German Horror Classics series that also features authorized versions of CABINET OF DR CALIGARI (a knockout), NOSFERATU, and the rarely seen WAXWORKS. They can be obtained seperately or all together in a box set. If you are one of the ever growing number of silent movie fans then this movie, indeed this set, is a must.


Summary

A relic certainly, but a fascinating one,Der Golem is perhaps the screen's first great monster movie. Though it was actually the third time director-star Paul Wegener had played the eponymous creation, the earlier efforts (sadly lost) were rough drafts for this elaborate dramatization of the Jewish legend. When the Emperor decrees that the Jews of mediaeval Prague should be evicted from the ghetto, a mystical rabbi creates a clay giant and summons the demon Astaroth who breathes out in smoky letters the magic word that will animate the golem. Intended as a protector and avenger, the golem is twisted by the machinations of a lovelorn assistant and, like many a monster to come, runs riot, terrorizing guilty and innocent alike until a little girl innocently ends his rampage. Wegener's golem is an impressively solid figure, the Frankenstein monster with a slightly comical clay wig. The wonderfully grotesque Prague sets and the alchemical atmosphere remain potent.--Kim Newman