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wgdavis
06-23-2004, 04:07 AM
The second DVD from Kino's 4-DVD set German Horror Classics is Paul Wegener's "The Golem". Based on an old jewish fable, about the wise Rabbi Loew who, upon hearing that the emporer is going to chase the Jews from there Ghetto, creates a living statue, a Golem, to protect his people. Very similair to the Frankenstein story, The Golem uses Faith and Magic in place of Science to render the creature, and the Golem is inanimate matter given life, whereas frankenstein's Monster is reanimated life. There are many parallels in the movies, but I needed to keep reminding myself - this movie predated Frankenstein by a decade.
The transfer itself has some slight speckling and scratches, but looks great considering the age. I noted on my review of Caligari about the static camera, and how it felt like I was watching a play - Der Golem does not have that feel to it. Looking back, I don't believe it was because the camera moved, but more because there were more closeups, and different camera angles incorporated. in other words, this felt like a later movie than Caligari.
Another necessary comment is on the score - Fantastic! It might be a small orchestra, but it is not synthesized, and it really adds to the mood and feel of the film. Also, suprisingly for a 1920 movie, there are special effects of sorts, and they are well done. No big explosions, but very effective. I would be curious how this film fits into the antisemitism that begins to build in the early thirties - In this film, the Jews are being oppressed, and are portrayed in a sympathetic light. It's my understanding that Wegener later made propoganda flicks for the Nazi party - an irony to be sure.
4 1/2 Cucumbers out of 5.

If I were doing it again, I'd watch Caligari first. :)

mutleyhyde
06-23-2004, 05:47 AM
I love Der Golem. I have the Elite set, and thought the movie was a treasure the first time I saw it. You're right on about the close-ups and angle shots breaking up the composition, and if you consider the time it was made, Der Golem was a special effects tour de force.

dwatts
06-23-2004, 08:44 AM
Is this the 1920 version? Apparently Wegener made this one twice, once in 1914 and the aforementioned 1920 (along with, believe it or not, a Golem parody in 1917!)

I have never read that he made propoganda films for the Nazi party (he was actually drafted to fight on the Western Front where he was retired out due to injury). I'd be interested in information about that.

wgdavis
06-23-2004, 02:36 PM
Is this the 1920 version? Apparently Wegener made this one twice, once in 1914 and the aforementioned 1920 (along with, believe it or not, a Golem parody in 1917!)

I have never read that he made propoganda films for the Nazi party (he was actually drafted to fight on the Western Front where he was retired out due to injury). I'd be interested in information about that.

My understanding is that there is no surviving footage of the 1914 or 1917 movies. This was supposedly more of a prequel, as atested to by the original German name "Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam", which I think is "The Golem, and how he came to be". So I guess you could consider the 1914, 1917, and 1920 movies to be the first Horror Series. It is a pity that "The Golem" (1914) and "The Golem and the Dancing Girl" (1917) have been lost to time - would have made a heck of a DVD set.

I haven't looked at the reaction in America, but supposedly it ran in NY for 10 months when it was released in 1923. That certainly sounds as if it was appreciated even then.

The comment about him doing Propoganda films was taken from another review (from Rotten Tomatoes). After Googel-ing, I find several mentions of an unrelated Paul Wegener wha was a NAZI Politician and Gestapo officer, but the birthdates are not even close. So I will withdraw that comment pending further investigation.

Livingdead102
06-23-2004, 02:39 PM
Nice review. Every time I'm wandering around Borders I keep trying to talk myself into buying this set, but I'm such a cheap bastard (and poor!) that I never do. The only two movies I really want out of the set are The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu, but The Golem sounds interesting now as well. Hurry up with the other reviews!

dwatts
06-23-2004, 03:08 PM
--My understanding is that there is no surviving footage of the 1914 --

I did a bit of googling myself ;) Found no information on Nazi films, but I did find this link:

PAUL WEGENER
MAN OR MONSTER? (http://www.kjenkins49.fsnet.co.uk/wegener.htm)

The line that is most curious is: "Long thought to be lost, Der Golem (1914) was discovered in the private ownership of a collector who struck a print from the surviving nitrate copy in 1958."

If that is true, I wonder why it's never resurfaced?

wgdavis
06-23-2004, 03:22 PM
Nice review. Every time I'm wandering around Borders I keep trying to talk myself into buying this set, but I'm such a cheap bastard (and poor!) that I never do. The only two movies I really want out of the set are The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu, but The Golem sounds interesting now as well. Hurry up with the other reviews!

My local Blockbuster carries them for rent. Perhaps a preview is in order? :)

Next up is Nosferatu, and hopefully by this weekend Waxworks.

wgdavis
06-23-2004, 03:27 PM
--My understanding is that there is no surviving footage of the 1914 --

I did a bit of googling myself ;) Found no information on Nazi films, but I did find this link:

PAUL WEGENER
MAN OR MONSTER? (http://www.kjenkins49.fsnet.co.uk/wegener.htm)

The line that is most curious is: "Long thought to be lost, Der Golem (1914) was discovered in the private ownership of a collector who struck a print from the surviving nitrate copy in 1958."

If that is true, I wonder why it's never resurfaced?

I had also read the "Man or Monster" review, but glossed over that line. A few months of frequenting The Silent Era Website (http://www.silentera.com/), there seems to be a lot of rumor about 'found' prints, which don't always pan out. Some websites actually list the Kino DVD as Der Golem (1914) (for example http://www.openflix.com/movie/golem,-der.html), which is clearly incorrect.

So I guess until it turns up on VHS or DVD, I don't believe it, which is a shame.

BTW, Silent Era lists a whole lot of Lost Films, but Der Golem (1914) isn't on it. Hmmm...

dwatts
06-23-2004, 03:28 PM
I actually get angry when I read of lost films :(