THE GOLEM: How He Came into the World (1920) – The Dungeon Review!

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Germany was a mighty power in horror filmmaking during the silent period. Germany dominated the industry and for good reason; the highly stylized expressionistic visuals were nothing short of extraordinary. The Golem is another extremely impressive visual extravaganza with breathtaking imagery that anyone with eyeballs should be able to appreciate on some level. The sets were all designed by architect Hans Poelzig and the amazing cinematographer was handled by Karl Freund whose impressive 150 deep resume includes The Last Laugh, Metropolis, Dracula and Murders in the Rue Morgue. Not every gorgeous visceral German silent horror film hits the sweet spot however. While The Golem easily matches The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari visually speaking its story did not sate me in the same way. The Golem’s story is not unappealing by any means and it did keep me engaged throughout. It just did not leave me entirely satisfied. Religious oriented folklore does not hold much appeal for me; unless of course it is Satan-inspired shenanigans. The Golem is a creature from Jewish folklore. In the case of Paul Wegener and Carl Boese’s film The Golem is a creature created from clay by a Rabbi to save the people of a small village.

The Golem was actually Paul Wegener’s third film to feature the “Golem” character. The first attempt at The Golem in 1915 left Wegener unsatisfied due to compromises he was forced to make during production. The second was a comedic short made in 1917 called The Golem and The Dancing Girl. The Golem is also a bit of a comical character in Wegener’s 1920 update. He is large but I would hardly call him intimidating or remotely frightening. Despite The Golem’s tagline “The 1920 Horror Masterpiece” I would not qualify this film as horror at all. I would call this a fable heavy on fantasy. I don’t think this movie would frighten a five-year old. You will get no argument from me anymore about whether older films will frighten today’s retardedly overstimulated audiences. I have opened my mind and heart to films of old and I think there is plenty to creep and frighten if you are up for the experience. Especially silent films which can be spectacularly eerie! The Golem is just not one of them. The Golem is certainly not without its assets and is worth watching simply for the astounding visuals. They will blow your mind! Again I watched a color tint version in favor of black and white although in this case it was the only print available through the library. Jumping Jehovah this film is a stunner! Although I wasn’t in love with the story, it kept me engaged and I would certainly recommend checking out The Golem.

The Golem: How he Came into the World.
Pictures based on Events in an old Chronicle.
A Film in Five Chapters…

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“The stars reveal to the revered Rabbi Löw, that a terrible misfortune will befall the Jewish community.”

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Rabbi Löw’s daughter Miriam.

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Rabbi Jehuda.

“I must speak with Rabbi Jehuda – our people are facing an impending calamity.”

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“Venus is entering the Libran constellation, and the time now favours the invocation. I must wrest the crucial life-giving word from the dreaded spirit Astaroth, that will bring The Golem to life and save my people.”

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Turns out there might have been something to the whole stars revealing doom thing. Knight Florian is sent by Emperor Luhois to deliver an edict in the form of a decree against the Jews.

“Knight Florian – you must deliver our edict to the Jewish quarter immediately.”

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Sassy Miriam flirts voraciously with Knight Florian.

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The Golem (top). Rabbi Löw conspires with his servant. “Can you keep a secret from all mankind?”

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Meanwhile…copping a feel.

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Rabbi Löw almost strangles Miriam to death for being a skank. What the hell? Seriously! He strangles his daughter in this scene!

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Necro Manci! Aka Necromancy. Aka raising the dead! The Golem is ready to join the world! “The hour is almost upon us. The alignment of the stars now favours the invocation of the spell.”

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“Astaroth! Astaroth appear! Appear! Name the word! On behalf of the Lord of the Spirits – name the word!” Okay, I said in my intro there are no spooky scenes but this scene was actually kinda creepy.

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The Golem awakes! The Golem runs his first errand; picking up some groceries for Rabbi Löw. If I had a Golem I’d make him do my laundry and carry me around on his shoulders everywhere I wanted to go. I wish I had a Golem.

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“When your father arrives at the castle I will steal away from the festival – I have bribed the gatekeeper – place a lamp in the window as a sign that you are waiting for me.” Knight Florian…you sly dog you! Boom chicka-chicka boom.

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“In memory of your services, we will grant you an audience. Come to the Rose Festival at the castle and amuse us again with your magic arts.”

Rabbi Löw gets the opportunity to speak to Emperor Luhois about the whole decree against the Jews business. The Rabbi brings Golem along for a little muscle. Nah. The Rabbi actually brings Golem along to entertain the bastards. I think it would have been awesome had Golem walked into that snotty ass Rose Festival and knocked some blocks off.

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“It is a fact! The watchman told me himself. Revered Rabbi Löw has returned from the Emperor, bearing the pardon. Rejoice ye, rejoice ye!”

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“Golem, your task is completed. Once again become lifeless clay, so that we may avoid any vengeance sought by the dark powers.” Golem’s mad face gave me a bit of a giggle.

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Knight Florian needs an escape route so he can leave undetected.

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“A strange man is in her room. Drive him away!”

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A Striking and iconic image from The Golem: How He Came Into the World.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Carl Boese & Paul Wegener

Starring: Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück, Ernst Deutsch, Lyda Salmonova, Ernst Deutsch, Hans Stürm, Max Kronert, Otto Gebühr, Dore Paetzold

4 Responses to “THE GOLEM: How He Came into the World (1920) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. I haven’t seen the film in many moons,and I do recall enjoying The Golem. It was another film that played on our local Pittsburgh public television station WQED in the 1960’s,the same place I first saw Ingmar Bergman’s amazing The Virgin Spring,a movie that haunted me for days in my youth. I totally agree with you about today’s audience being over stimulated. There is so much I miss about the movie going experience of the past,but then I belong to the past. Anyway,first-rate review written with the excellence,wit and style that always makes my day brighter.

    • I love Bergman. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mr. Bergman on and off since seeing that Liv & Ingmar doc. Now that I know he wrote love letters and put hearts with smiley faces on them it adds a weird angle to his persona (no pun intended there). Evidently Persona is a personal favourite Bergman film. One of these days I am going to have to watch a few films from the past decade but not this year…this year we have golden silence and than something weird…ahhhhhh…so good 🙂

  2. Great review and presentation!

    • Thank you so much David 🙂

      “I remember the first day he came here perfect. That’s when we first saw that he was a quiet man.”

      I am literally watching Crime Wave while I am answering your comment! Why am I watching Crime Wave when I should be writing a review for House of Frankenstein? Because watching Crime Wave is like a one hour and 20 minute long hug. Oh how I love that film!

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