RAMPER, DER TIERMENSCH (1927)
aka The Strange Case of Captain Ramper
Article 5352 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Max Reichmann
Featuring Paul Wegener, Mary Johnson, Hugo Doblin
What it is: Bizarre drama
A noted aviator crashes his plane while making a daring flight over the polar regions. In order to survive, he lives a brutal, beast-like existence that buries his humanity. Many years later, he is captured as a “polar ape”, and then is sold as a sideshow attraction, despite the fact that the seller has been told that he is human…
Here’s another movie that ended up on my “ones that got away” list years ago; I had been aware that some footage existed, but I was never sure there was enough to make it worth a viewing. Then, just recently, an incomplete print practically dropped into my lap (and a hearty thanks to the man who sent this to me) and I got a chance to see it. I’m glad I did; this may be one of the most interesting of the Paul Wegener movies I’ve seen. It falls somewhat into the area of science fiction at one point with a theory about the existence of a gland that can be used to restore humanity to a debased man. From what I see, the movie explores the nature of humanity and whether a man can truly say he has a better existence than that of a beast. The movie is not complete, and much of the ending is missing, but there is enough here to enjoy the movie and to guess how things could have turned out; I’m halfway tempted to hunt down the original play and see how it panned out. I’m very glad to have seen it; if it was complete, I think it may have a chance to be judged as Wegener’s best movie.