The Golem (1920)

THE GOLEM (1920)
Article #214 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-16-2001
Posting date: 3-1-2002

In order to fight a pogrom, a rabbi creates a Golem which he brings to the castle and uses to convince the king not to evict his people. Afterwards, the Golem runs wild.

This movie served as a prequel to the 1915 movie also called THE GOLEM, though technically, the full title of this one is THE GOLEM: HOW HE CAME INTO THE WORLD. I would love to see the 1915 version sometime, but I’m not even sure if it exists, though I’ve heard claims to the contrary. I suspect that a lot of these claims are from people who think they’ve seen the 1915 version but have actually seen the 1920 version. To complicate matters, IMDB has the 1915 version of the movie marked as being available on DVD, but the link merely takes you to a collection of German classics which contains the 1920 version. There are also about fifty votes for the 1915 version, but the only user comment on the movie contains what is clearly a description of the 1920 movie, so I have to write that off as confusion between the two movies.

The 1920 version is quite entertaining, and it’s interesting to compare it to the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN; both movies involve the creation of artificial men that get out of control, both have impressive high sets, and both have central scenes involving the monster and a little girl. What I most admire about this movie was Paul Wegener’s way of controlling his body in order to make the Golem look as if he was actually made out of stone; this and his makeup job combine to make the character a lot more convincing than it would otherwise be.

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