The Golem

Movie Information

In Brief: There’s a certain amount of confusion about The Golem made by Paul Wegener (who also plays the creature) and Carl Boese in Germany in 1920. It is neither Wegener’s 1915 version (considered lost), nor is it a remake of that film. It is its own beast — a story detailing the creation of the Golem by Rabbi Low (Albert Steinruck) in the Jewish ghetto of Prague in the 16th century. While it’s technically more a film of Jewish folklore than an outright horror picture, it certainly qualifies as horror — and supernatural horror at that — and it’s pretty much the prototype for every artificial creature yarn that follows in its wake. Put simply, it works on the basis that any such creature will eventually run amok, create all manner of havoc and need to be destroyed. In essence, it’s the template for the Frankenstein Monster. The Golem, however, is not a product of mad science, but a clay statue brought to life through some kind of Cabbalistc black magic involving getting the secret word for life from a demon and using the word to animate the statue. This is a still pretty impressive sequence and Wegener’s Golem is an imposing figure. Much of the film, however, is devoted to the Rabbi using the creature to prevent the Emperor from persecuting the Jews. Still, the elements of horror are always present, and fans of classic horror will note parallels to both Fritz (Dwight Frye) and the Monster’s encounter with little Maria (Marilyn Harris) from James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). Also, The Golem is an excellent example of German Expressionism, drawing from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), but reaching a somewhat more realistic compromise in terms of design. This excerpt was taken from a review by Ken Hanke published on Oct. 29, 2010.
Genre: Horror
Director: Paul Wegener
Starring: Paul Wegener, Albert Steinruck, Lyda Salmonova, Ernst Deutsch, Hans Sturm, Otto Gebühr, Lothar Müthel
Rated: NR

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Golem on Thursday, March 9, at 9:15 p.m. at The Grail Moviehouse, hosted by Xpress movie critic Scott Douglas.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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