Directed by Paul Wegener [Other horror films: Der Student von Prag (1913), Der Golem (1915), Der Golem und die Tänzerin (1917)]
A true classic of the silent era, Der Golem, wie er in der Welt kam (a prequel to the lost 1915 Der Golem) is a great watch, even if you’re new to silent flicks.
The one caveat is that if you do seek this movie out, make sure you find a version with a score. I’ve seen this twice before, both times with a score, but for this most recent rewatch, I was watching a truly silent version, which I don’t like doing and can affect the film. That said, I will do my best to not let that interfere.
The setting, a slum that the Jewish population are forced to dwell in, was captivating, and showed some inklings of the impressionist style that Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari is better known for. Homes made of stone, the people wearing little more than robes, really showed the desperate situation the Jews found themselves in, and when they’re told they’re to be expelled by the emperor, it really helps show why one of them would go to the lengths of crafting a Golem.
Which is somewhat ironic, as one of the reasons they’re being expelled is due to their practice of dark magic, which, by creating a Golem, sort of proves the emperor’s point. But that flawed logic aside, I do get where they’re coming from.
Not much of the cast really stood out aside from Albert Steinruck, Paul Wegener, and Lyda Salmonova. Really, the standout is Wegener’s performance as the titular Golem, a very Frankenstein-monster esque creation. He didn’t express all that much a range of emotion, but he did have, at times, a very threatening presence (not all that far removed from Frankstein’s monster from the 1931 classic Frankenstein).
There’s many prints of this flick floating about. This time around, I saw the 1 hour and 42 minute version, which, at times, does occasionally feel as though it’s dragging. Still, there’s shorter versions out there if you want a more digestible taste of this flick. Der Golem, wie er in der Welt kam isn’t my favorite silent horror flick, but it is a classic for a reason, and I’d highly recommend a watch at least once in your life.