(Der Golem, Wie Er in die Welt Kam)
Following the War, German fantastic cinema blossomed following the amazing success of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919). Dr Caligari created a vogue for magnificent, extravagantly theatrical fantasies, built with colossal sets and stylized fantastical settings, usually drawing on Mediaeval legends. Around this time, F.W. Murnau made Nosferatu and Faust (1926), while Fritz Lang emerged with films like Dr Mabuse, The Gambler (1922), Siegfried (1924) and Metropolis (1927).
During this period, Paul Wegener was given the opportunity to rework The Golem with a more lavish budget. This version is usually called a remake but is more what we would today call a prequel to the first film. This tends to get lost in the English-language prints that call this version simply The Golem but is emphasised more so by the original German subtitle, which translates as How He Came Into the World.
Seen today, The Golems value remains as more as a work of historic interest than anything else. Modern audiences tend to greet the vision of Paul Wegener clomping about in platform heels and starched wig as a comical rather than an horrific sight. However, The Golem is a good story and Wegener and Carl Boeses direction is exceptional. There is a particularly good scene involving the calling up of Astaroth with Loew creating a flaming circle around a pentacle and conjuring forth a masked head that utters a breath of smoke out of which unrolls a piece of paper with the name on it. The scene where Loew creates a vision for the emperors court and the Golem saves them from a falling roof is also magnificently staged. The sets are also highly impressive, drawing as they do on the stylised, exaggerated lines of design created by Caligari.
Paul Wegener directed several other films. His only other venture into fantastic cinema was a lost version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1917). Up until his death in 1948, Wegener played a number of other sinister roles in German fantastic cinema including the title role (based on Aleister Crowley) in The Magician (1926), the title role in The Strange Case of Captain Rampar (1927), the scientist in the Henrik Galeen-directed remake of Alraune (1928) and a killer in Tales of the Uncanny/Unholy Tales (1932).
Further versions of the Golem legend are: the French The Golem (1936); the Polish The Emperors Baker (1951), which turns the story to comic purposes; the cheap American horror film It (1966); an episode of the Czech portmanteau film Nights of Prague (1968), which retells the same basic story as here; The X Files episode Kaddish (1997); and was played for comedy in the Terry Pratchett mini-series Going Postal (2010). The Polish sf film The Golem (1979) has nothing to do with the legend of the golem and is a satire about the future behavioural programming of the human race. The monster movie trilogy Majin, Monster of Terror (1966), The Return of Giant Majin (1966) and Majin Strikes Again (1967) is a Japanese variant on the Golem legend. The film is also often cited as the inspiration for Boris Karloffs slow, stumbling artificial creation in Frankenstein (1931)
Full film available online here:-