Monday, October 21, 2013

THE GOLEM - SHORT REVIEW (31 DAYS OF HORROR #2)

The Golem: How He Came Into the World
(Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam)

October 29, 1920
85 min
Germany (German/English)

Directed by Paul Wegener & Carl Boese
Written by Wegener & Henrik Galeen


The Golem is like a village elder among cinema: It's age is apparent, dissuading even, but what it has to offer is invaluable.

After a Rabbi reads impending doom amongst the stars for his Jewish community he molds a large humanoid out of clay. How He Came Into the World is the subtitle for Paul Wegener and Carl Boese's The Golem. Before this Wegener had directed two shorter films (even shorter than this one's brisk 85 minutes) featuring the Golem character which he himself plays underneath the makeup and costume. Unfortunately, those two films are lost today and we're left with this 1920 classic. Classic in every sense of the word, this also being one of the very first horror films known in existence (second only to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in Steven Jay Schneider's 101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die.) 

To be entirely truthful I found The Golem to be a slough to tread through yet your patience will be rewarded with some early movie magic moments that impressed me despite being 90 years old. The sequence where Rabbi Loew summons the demon Astaroth in order to bring life to the clay humanoid is such a highlight and evidence for it's fitting into this genre. The Golem is intended to be a servant, capable of working on the Sabbath when the righteous Jews cannot, but Wegener's early production shows that meddling in such powers can quickly slip out of your control. This film is an example of what early practitioners could control as well as what areas the medium would benefit from adapting. For that it's invaluable to the art form, not just the horror genre.

"The hour is almost upon us. The alignment of the stars now favors the invocation of the spell."
- Rabbi Loew



★★★★

CONTENT: some violence and some sensuality

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