Today, I bring you another silent classic from the age before films could speak. Most people will tell you that German cinema created the horror genre, and I would agree with them in large part. Today’s film Der Golem is a great example of this. The golem is a precursor to Frankenstein (the original story of the golem predates Shelley’s novel, and the film would arrive prior to Karloff by a decade). Released in 1921 this German production covers the infamous story of the creation of the Golem of Prague.
The scene where the creature is brought to life is still one of my favorite in all of cinema. Some of these themes are still relevant today, and the film is a must watch for fans of classic German cinema. You can click on the image below to procure a copy and read on for the synopsis.
Synopsis: Widely recognized as the source of the Frankenstein myth, the ancient Hebrew legend of the Golem provided actor/director Paul Wegener with the substance for one of the most adventurous films of the German silent cinema. Suffering under the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II in 16th century Prague, a Talmudic rabbi (Albert Steinruck) creates a giant warrior (Paul Wegener) to protect the safety of his people. Sculpted of clay and animated by the mysterious secrets of the Cabala, the Golem is a seemingly indestructible juggernaut, performing acts of great heroism, yet equally capable of dreadful violence. When the rabbi’s assistant (Ernst Deutsch) takes control of the Golem and attempts to use him for selfish gain, the lumbering monster runs rampant, abducting the rabbi’s daughter (Lyda Salmonova) and setting fire to the ghetto. With its remarkable creation sequence (a dazzling blend of religion, sorcery and special effects) and the grand scale destruction of its climax, The Golem was one of the greatest achievements of the legendary UFA Studios, and remains and undeniable landmark in the evolution of horror film