The Student of Prague (1926)

THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (1926)
(a.k.a. DER STUDENT VON PRAG)
Article #1481 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-4-2005
Posting Date: 9-1-2005
Directed by Henrik Galeen
Featuring Conrad Veidt, Elizza La Porta, Fritz Alberti

A poor student with an infatuation for a rich society girl meets a mysterious man who offers him a huge supply of gold in trade for any one item within the student’s apartment. When the student agrees, the man makes off with the student’s mirror reflection, which then begins to interfere with the student’s life.

When I covered the 1913 version of this story, I was unable to go into much detail, since my copy of the movie only had German title cards. This one has English title cards, and it’s a pleasure to finally understand the story. Furthermore, this is the superior version, thanks to some moody direction by Henrik Galeen (who was involved in either a writing or directorial capacities in an astonishing number of German horror movies, such as both versions of THE GOLEM, WAXWORKS, ALRAUNE and NOSFERATU) and a fine, powerful performance from Conrad Veidt, who may actually have been the finest horror actor of the silents and is here reunited with his CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI co-star Werner Krauss. The movie isn’t perfect; it’s confusing at times, too slow-moving at others, and the soundtrack on my copy, though it does have a dolorous, somber feel to it very appropriate to the story as a whole, is at times annoyingly repetitive. Still, that doesn’t really matter, as there’s a real power in the growing horror of the story, and the final sequences in which Veidt is stalked by himself are absolutely chilling. In a sense, there’s no other horror movie out there quite like this one, and I’m surprised no one has seen fit to remake it in recent years (though there was one in 1935). Highly recommended, especially to fans of silent horror.

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