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The Golem (1920)

Cast: Paul Wegener, Lyda Salmonova, Lathar Menthel, more...
Director: Karl Boese, Paul Wegener
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Kino
Genre: Horror, Killer Critters, Silent, Classic Horror, Classic Horror, Silent Horror, Silent Horror
Running Time: 86 min.
    see additional details...

Actor-director Paul Wegener made three films built around the mythical creature of Jewish legend: Golem was released in 1914, and a sequel of sorts, Der Golem und die Tšnzerin, came out in 1917. This is the one film which has survived and is regarded among the landmarks of early German expressionism. In medieval Prague, Rabbi Loew (Albert Steinruck) observes the stars and concludes that trouble is brewing for his people. When the emperor issues a decree threatening the expulsion of Jews from the city, the rabbi, a master of magic, activates the Golem, a monstrous clay figure, to help save his congregation. The rabbi's daughter, Miriam (Lyda Salmonova, who also played this role in the 1914 film) is courted by two men, Famulus (Ernst Deutsch), the rabbi's assistant, and Knight Florian (Lathar Menthel), a messenger for the emperor. Famulus re-activates the Golem to vanquish his rival, and the monster goes berserk. Stylized sets and moody cinematography elevated Der Golem above the standard features of its time, its central figure has been the focus of a number of films produced in various countries, and the name has become a generic descriptor for any lumbering creature which can't be easily controlled. ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

don't watch it alone! by CSullivan May 25, 2004 - 7:23 PM PDT
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
No, its not scary, but it is a silent movie and is much more fun when you supply your own dialog :)

Footnote: Regardless of the personal attacks on my intelligence from jaimetout, I stand by my review.... this film is boring. Watched it with a friend, we both wanted to like it, but it just wasn't that interesting. The actual myth of the Golem from Jewish mysticism is interesting, and yes, this story is another example of the rampant anti-Semitism in Germany at that time of the filming, but THIS FILM IS DULL. I didnt care for the acting, nor did I think the story was told well cinematically and very little text was provided making it difficult to follow what was going on. The title of my review may have been misleading, I didnt truly expect the movie to be scary, that wasnt the disappointment--I expected it to be at least mildly entertaining and it failed to reach the low bar I set for it. Providing our own witty/bawdy dialog was the only way my friend and I were able to enjoy this particular silent film. You may enjoy this movie solely from a historical point of view, but I didnt.

even scarier... by jaimetout March 5, 2004 - 7:40 PM PST
5 out of 13 members found this review helpful
CSullivan's review is pretty scary UNLESS you provide your own text. It's much easier (and more filmically illiterate) to "provide your own dialogue" than it is to see a film within its historical context and to appreciate the practically lost art of purely visual storytelling. Sure, a film like this one is not going to be scary today. NOTHING is scary today, apparently. We are talking about a time in which Satan Himself is our chief executive, but still has half of the public's support. Most people, CSullivan included, can't stand THINKING. This movie isn't "scary" because of the whole "monster turns on master" theme, but rather because of its eerily prescient treatment of (and not-so-inadvertant reinforcement of) anti-semitic views. This film influenced everything from early Hollywood horror to film noir, so it's a technical landmark. At the same time, its ominous politics are an in-your-face precursor to Nazi ideology. To simply write it off as "not scary" and to provide glib parlor-room dialogue provides evidence as to just how apathetic American film fans are in regard to both general visual aesthetics and basic ideology. If a cinephile has no interest in either of those aspects of cinematic form, he/she is little more than a dust bunny under the smoke-stinked couch of mediocrity.

So watch this movie with your BRAINS turned on.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.48)
62 Votes
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