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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Der Golem (1915)
(2019 4K Restoration)


Starring: Paul Wegener, Rudolf Blümner, Carl Ebert, Henrik Galeen and Lyda Salmonova
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £22.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 18 November 2019

It is 16th century Prague. The Rabbi of an oppressed Jewish ghetto builds a large Golem from clay to protect the people from the Emperor. It is brought alive using a star harbouring a secret word coaxed from a demon. Although initially afraid, the people reluctantly accept this figure, until the unscrupulous assistant of the Rabbi tries to control the Golem for his own selfish purposes – with disastrous results...

Eureka Entertainment releases the 1920 silent horror movie Der Golem on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, as part of its Masters of Cinema series. It is remastered from a brand new 4K restoration, and the first 2000 copies are presented with a limited format slipcase. It was directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, the former also playing the part of the Golem. An early example of German Expressionism, it was also thought to have been an influence on Universal’s 1931 film adaptation of the classic book Frankenstein.

There are effectively four versions of the film: The first with music from composer Stephen Horne; the second by electronic music producer Wudec; the third by musician and film score composer Admir Shkurtaj; and the US version of the film with a score by Cordula Heth. There is an audio commentary by Scott Harrison; a video essay by critic David Cairns; a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira; and a video piece describing the differences between the domestic and export negatives of the film. There is also a collector’s booklet which includes reprints of illustrations from the 1915 novel.

I once spent a very enjoyable night at The Devonshire Arms in Camden, London, drinking beer and watching a succession of screen-projected silent horror movies – including Nosferatu, Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, and Der Golem. I have a copy of this film in a set of silent classics which includes the aforementioned three, plus The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. So, I hope this proves I’m an avid appreciator of the horror classic. Der Golem hasn’t the all-time great status of Nosferatu from 1922, but it does have its moments. It’s not going to scare anybody living in the 21st century; rather, the quirkiness or – more succinctly, the quaintness is a wonder to behold. The ultra-wide-eyed Golem and, particularly, the messenger to the Emperor attempting to seduce the well-to-do but extremely vain lady in the city. It’s an entertaining film for those historical or horror collectors.


Ty Power

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