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The Golem [DVD] [1920]

Release Date:09/24/2002
Kino's DVD release of Paul Wegener's The Golem stands head-and-shoulders above any rival edition. Not that there aren't flaws in the 1920 movie even here, but as the product of a professional restoration effort involving archival sources held in museums on two continents, it's got the sharpest image that one is ever likely to see of this movie -- when the Golem appears onscreen and starts to move, one gets a real sense of the menace and danger of its physical and metaphysical presence. The tinting is a bit more subtle than we're used to, but it also adds to the eerie mix of history, myth, and fantasy unfolding in front of us; and the presence of a score (which uses traditional Jewish themes for much of its length) separates this DVD from the best competing editions of the movie, which are silent. The 86-minute movie has been given ten carefully chosen chapters that also coincide with the five "acts" into which the film itself is divided. Additionally, the disc comes with a fascinating excerpt from Julien Duvivier's 1936 version of the same story and comparisons with scenes from other movies and literary works, including F.W. Murnau's Faust. The disc opens automatically to an easy-to-use multi-layered menu.

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    Special Features

    • Excerpt of Julien Duvivier's 1936 film: Le Golem
    • Scene comparison featuring excerpts of F.W. Murnau's Faust (1926) and Chayim Bloch's book The Golem (1925)
    • New and improved English intertitle translation
    • Gallery of photographs and artwork


    Der Golem
    Actor-director Paul Wegener made three films built around the mythical creature of Jewish legend: Golem was released in 1914, and a sequel of sorts, Der Golem und die Tänzerin, came out in 1917. This is the one film which has survived and is regarded among the landmarks of early German expressionism. In medieval Prague, Rabbi Loew (Albert Steinruck) observes the stars and concludes that trouble is brewing for his people. When the emperor issues a decree threatening the expulsion of Jews from the city, the rabbi, a master of magic, activates the Golem, a monstrous clay figure, to help save his congregation. The rabbi's daughter, Miriam (Lyda Salmonova, who also played this role in the 1914 film) is courted by two men, Famulus (Ernst Deutsch), the rabbi's assistant, and Knight Florian (Lathar Menthel), a messenger for the emperor. Famulus re-activates the Golem to vanquish his rival, and the monster goes berserk. Stylized sets and moody cinematography elevated Der Golem above the standard features of its time, its central figure has been the focus of a number of films produced in various countries, and the name has become a generic descriptor for any lumbering creature which can't be easily controlled. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

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      Fritz Feld - Jester
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      Otto Gebuhr
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      Lyda Salmonova - Rabbi's Daughter
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      Hanns Sturm - Emperor Rudolph II
    • Image coming soon
      Albert Steinruck - Rabbi Loew

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.