Frankenstein (1931 film)

Blu-Ray Review: DER GOLEM (1920)

It is entirely possible that Der Golem aka The Golem, 1920’s German expressionist trend-setter from director Paul Wegener (and co-director Carl Boese), can actually be classed as the first cinematic franchise, given this particularly well-regarded effort stands as the third time Wegener portrays the titular Golem. It may also be the first cinematic prequel.

Don’t quote me on that. Far harder cinephiles may well be able to pull an obscure 1910’s example out of the hat to prove me wrong, and naturally Der Golem never directly clues you in to the fact this was set before the previous Golem films, but Wegener & Boese’s movie is at the end of the day an origin story. Set in the Jewish ghetto in 16th century Prague, it focuses on a small village where an enterprising Rabbi (played by Albert Streinruck) forges a Golem via black magic to protect the people from a tyrannical Emperor (Otto Gebuhr), only for the creature to ultimately turn destructive when he is used for personal gain. It is, in that sense, a cautionary tale of playing God, of man creating monster, and I know what you’re thinking: Frankenstein. The inspirations are clear but, in truth, they work both ways.

While Wegener & Boese undoubtedly would have been in some way influenced by the Gothic literature of Mary Shelley, the legend of the Golem stretches back into Hebrew myth and you can entirely see the inspirations in the work of James Whale and his own seminal, early 1931 Hollywood take on the Frankenstein story. These stories all have their place in romantic narrative and, in the case of Der Golem, a formative part of ‘Weimar Cinema’ in pre-Nazi Germany.

Tony Talks #17: Classic Film Book Goodness!

Hello film fans!

So thanks to the lovely folks at Running Press, I’ve been reading a whole bunch of film books in the last couple of months which I thought I’d badge together in one post, as I wanted to recommend them to any of you who have an interesting in learning more about cinema.

Here are some deeper thoughts on what I’ve been reading…