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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sound presentation, shame about the music
"Der Golem" (1920) is an adequate adaptation of the well-known fairy tale about the clay man brought to life to protect the Jews of Prague. Paul Wegener sets down an excellent impression of the Golem, oscillating between a morose slavish servant/worker and the unleashed diabolical destroyer. The tragedy of the Golem is that in both conditions he is but an instrument of...
Published on 31 Mar. 2002 by D. De Gruijter

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3.0 out of 5 stars Filled with dread and fear but not the best silent horror movie
The Golem is remembered for being very influential on the horror scene and there are plenty of segments within the movie to support this. But when we talk of silent classics, The Golem seems to fall a little short of this praise. It is drawn out with extended scenes and takes its time to get going- there is no sign of the Golem in the first half of the movie...
Published 1 month ago by Colonel Decker


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sound presentation, shame about the music, 31 Mar. 2002
By 
D. De Gruijter (Leiden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Golem (DVD)
"Der Golem" (1920) is an adequate adaptation of the well-known fairy tale about the clay man brought to life to protect the Jews of Prague. Paul Wegener sets down an excellent impression of the Golem, oscillating between a morose slavish servant/worker and the unleashed diabolical destroyer. The tragedy of the Golem is that in both conditions he is but an instrument of either Rabbi Loewe, who created his body, or the demon Astaroth, who animates it.
In this way Wegener precedes that later, more famous Golem of flesh, Frankenstein's Monster (see James Whale, "Frankenstein" [1931] and "The Bride of Frankenstein" [1935]). It is interesting to note that some key scenes in both "Der Golem" and the "Frankenstein" movies are in many ways similar; the Creation finding brief comfort in the innocence of a child, the climatic inferno of the ghetto and the windmill, and the creator's assistant abusing the power of the Creature/Monster (see Bela Lugosi in "The Son of Frankenstein").
There are two drawbacks to this otherwise excellent production. First, this film would have gained greatly in quality had it been digitally remastered. This process has dramatically improved, for instance, Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922). Second, the soundtrack seems horribly out of key with the scenes. Relief or the mundane is accompanied by a loud agitating orchestra, while a dramatic scene such as the summoning of Astaroth sports a tune reminiscent of Mendelsohn's "Frühlingslied". In the last twenty minutes of the movie the same bombastic track just keeps being repeated, which is simply annoying. Nevertheless, a good addition to a horror/DVD collection.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the great horror icons, 10 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
The giant frame of Paul Wegener as the Golem is one of the best known characters from the silent era, and one of the first icons of horror. Der Golem is actually the third film to feature the character, the first being The Golem (1915), and the second The Golem And The Dancing Girl (1917), which is a short comedy with Wegener donning the costume to frighten a girl he is in love with. Tragically, those two films are now considered lost, and only fragments equalling about 14 minutes of the first film remain. This film is actually a prequel, and it's full title is Der Golem: Wie Er In Die Welt Kam (How He Came Into The World), but is now commonly know as simply Der Golem.

The Jews of medieval Prague face persecution from the townsfolk. Terrified of their doomed fate, Rabbi Loew (Albert Steinruck) uses his skills in black magic to create The Golem, a mythical figure from Jewish folklore. He is made entirely from clay, and has an amulet in his chest that gives him power, and when removed turns him back into lifeless clay. He is initially used as a servant, and then to terrify the townsfolk who are threatening them. The Golem eventually gets tired of being used as a tool of fear and begins to turn on his creator, and starts to lay waste to the Ghetto.

Like the majority of films made in Weimar Germany, the film has an expressionist tone, with lavish, artistic sets that dominate the frame. Similar in feel to the great Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari, it is however more subtle in its artistic flair, and lacks Caligari's rickety (although wonderful in its own way) sets. It is also quite terrifying in its realisation of a segregation that would occur in the country only a decade later, although it does portray the Jews as vengeful and as studying the dark arts.

The Golem itself is a great movie monster. Tragic in the same way as Frankenstein's monster, he is brought into the world without having asked to be, and is expected to carry out terrible acts against his will. Paul Wagener portrays him with all silent intensity and uncontrollable rage, with his towering frame sending his enemies running for the hills. He also impressively co-wrote and co-directed the film. This is an enjoyable film that breezes by in its rather slight running time, and can be forgiven for some over-acting and the occasional tedious scene. It also has some interesting social comments, and is a frightening prelude to one of the most horrific periods in Europe's history.

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most underappreciated of the classic silent horror films, 23 Nov. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Der Golem (DVD)
This 1921 version of "The Golem" ("Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam") is a remake of a 1915 silent film. In both the Golem is played by Paul Wegener, who also played the title character in the 1917 "The Golem and the Dancing Girl" ("Der Golem und die Tänzerin"). The Jewish legend of the goldem is set this time around in 16th century Prague, which is supposedly when Rabbi Loew (Albert Steinrück) created the giant golem from clay to defend the Jews from the persecution by the local despot. However, the rabbi's assistant, Famulus (Ernst Deutsch) takes control of the golem and sends it forth to do his nefarious bidding, which includes abducting the beautiful Miriam (Lyda Salmonova), the Rabbi's beloved daughter. However, the Golem's will can not be perverted in such a manner. Much is made of "The Golem" being one of the first monster movies, and certainly this film incorporates a lot of elements that would become basic components of a lot of classic horror films. But I think "The Golem" deserves to be considered the first superhero film. After all, the creature was not created to be a monster, but to be a heroic figure of deliverance, and I would suggest that is the more important reading of the film in the long run.
None of this detracts from the point that "The Golem" is a classic silent monster movie, that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with "Nosferatu" and "The Phantom of the Opera." I would agree that "The Golem" is a lesser example of German expressionism; certainly it is not as textbook as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" or "Nosferatu." Certainly Wegner, his figure esconced in "clay," is not capable of over emoting in any way. This leads me to another coment: Granted, there are strong similarities between the Golem and Karloff's performance in "Frankenstein" and it would not be surprising if Karloff had seen this silent film. But I would like to point out that the shuffling movements of both performances are logical consequences of being either a figure made out of clay or reanimated dead body parts. Karloff was a fine enough actor to have figured this out, even without the inspiration offered by this film.
Ultimately, I am more concerned over the attempts to make a political reading of the film, premised on the fact that this is a German film (read "proto-Nazi"). In terms of the film this idea is premised on the contrast between the shabby, dark-haired children of the Jewish ghetto shown throughout most of the film with the happy, blonde-haired children that surround the Golem at the end. For the latter, of course, there is a temptation to read the children as being Aryan and to comment on the irony of the impending Holocaust given such the visual oxymoron. But the simpler explanation to me is the contrast between the dark and the light as reflecting the oppressive Dionysian part of the film with its happier Apollian conclusion. Besides, I would have a hard time arguing a film where the main characters are Jewish can be rightly characterized as Anti-Semetic. The film employs stereotypes, but that was a cultural commonplace that extended beyond Jews at that time in popular culture (cf. the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs). Certainly the Emperor Luhois (Otto Gebühr) is a stereotypical despot.
There are lots of ways of reading "The Golem," so in the final analysis the important thing would be that you see it for yourself and make up your own mind on these issues. I think that however you read this film, it will end up high on your list for silent films in this genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 30 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
I've been wanting to see this one since I read about it as a teenager. I'm a big fan of classic horror stories & I plan on getting a lot more like this. To modern viewers it might seem tame, kinda funny even, but I am not a modern viewer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Filled with dread and fear but not the best silent horror movie, 21 April 2015
The Golem is remembered for being very influential on the horror scene and there are plenty of segments within the movie to support this. But when we talk of silent classics, The Golem seems to fall a little short of this praise. It is drawn out with extended scenes and takes its time to get going- there is no sign of the Golem in the first half of the movie.

But there are some wonderful elements in here. The first summoning is truly terrifying when the face appears out of the darkness, There are many similarities to Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN- and the ending is strangely very touching.

Certainly worth a purchase and your time, but there were better silent horrors out there.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I can appreciate this movie but....., 7 July 2012
By 
Mr. A. Whiteside "tonyjackie3" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
I have watched quite a few silent movies recently and 'Der Golem' was one that I looked forward to with keen anticipation. Many of the movies I have watched, including Nosferatu (1922) - Two-disc set [DVD], Pandora's Box (Silent) [Special Edition] [DVD], BROKEN BLOSSOMS:NTSC==ALL REGION IMPORT..D.W.GRIFFITH.DIRECTOR..WITH LILLIAN GISH and The Hunchback of Notre Dame [1923] [DVD] impressed me and I thought that they held up very well. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same about 'Der Golem',

For a movie from 1920, the sets are fabulous and the story is pretty good too with it's tale of Jewish segredation and isolation. But the main character here is The Golem and I almost hate to admit it but I found it to be funny rather than frightening. Yes of course the make up is good for a movie of this age and it is a fair representation of how The Golem looked in books. But I just couldn't get round the fact that with it's awful wig and robot like walk, well it just didn't work for me at all I'm afraid and it was almost like a comedy monster. That might be harsh but it is how I felt while watching 'Der Golem'. I also found the soundtrack, mainly violin, to be overbearing at times and not easy to listen to.

I can see the influence that this movie has had but I have to give an honest review and the main character here is the main weakness, sorry.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eerie classic, 28 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
The Golem may be less familiar than those other Expressionist classics,Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, but the scale and imaginationevident in the film more than compensate. The impressive sets and make-upas well as the unusually effective acting bring to life this eerilyprophetic tale of oppressed Jews in 16th Century Europe. A rabbiinterprets signs from the stars which warn of a pogrom in the ghetto. Using ancient Jewish powers, he animates a man of clay to protect theJews, only to find that he cannot remain in control over his creation.
Though the film stands well enough on its own, it is also fascinating froma historical perspective. Made in 1920, it pre-dates the worst of theHolocaust by under twenty years, and by referring to the historicalreality of the pogroms reinforces the fact that the ethnic exterminationof the 20th Century is, depressingly, unusual only in scale. However, theDVD extras concentrate on The Golem's place in German Expressionism. Inan interesting though rather short documentary, the main themes andimagery of Expressionism are linked to German literature. The Golem'sdesign is shown to be at least partly the inspiration for James Whales'version of Frankenstein. I would add that certain classic Gothic/horrormyths are established in the film, such as the need to use certain ancientwords to control the creature (similar to those memorably screwed up byAsh in Army of Darkness). For this reason The Golem is essential viewingnot only for those interested in early cinema, but for those who want tosee where modern horror began.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars silent movie, 7 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Der Golem [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the classical silent movies.

Shows very well the beginning of cinema and filming.

Nice movie to see.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silent Master, 6 Dec. 2011
By 
WILLIAM STOCK "Oldfilmbuff" (Luton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
Having recently visited Prague, and become more aware of the Golem legend, I was intrigued enough to want to learn more. This silent film from the writer, director, actor Paul Wegener supplied that extra knowledge. It is atmospheric and intriguing, an excellent example of early German cinema. The story flows well with only a minimum of intertitles. Whilst it strays from the original legend, it is fascinating to see connections to the Frankenstein story of Mary Shelley. The tinting of various scenes, such as the crimson during the burning of the ghetto, is subdued, but effective.
All told a welcome addition to any collection of early German or Horror films.
The extras whilst not being excessive, are a welcome addition.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised, 15 Sept. 2013
By 
Graham Harris "GraemedeT" (Wales ,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Golem [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the not so well known 'old' films that seem to crop up in various history books on the subject. It's a part of the German Expressionist movement ( seen in 'The Cabinet of Dr. Cabileri' and 'Nosferatu' and to some extent in 'Metropolis'). I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the reproduction. Not wildly enthusiastic about the musical sound track ( I am not sure that this has anything to do with what must have been the original score?). It has a sort of Frankenstein story about it ( as some of the later Frankenstein movie is almost a copy of episodes within this tale). I have no regrets about buying this. If you have not seen it before, I recommend it.
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