BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Golem (1920) - Blu-ray Review

  • Movie Review

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Film Details

  • Art

The Golem (1920)

The first horror icon of cinema has returned!  Or is The Golem, thanks to its design and its use of white magic, the first cinematic superhero?  I guess it comes down to your interpretation of the events in this legendary silent film.  But there is NO arguing of its influence.  From The Incredible Hulk to Iron Man and beyond, The Golem has influenced quite a bit of our heroes and our monsters.

"From The Incredible Hulk to Iron Man and beyond, The Golem has influenced quite a bit of our heroes and our monsters."


The Golem, written and directed by Paul Wegener, arrives on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber with a stunning 4K scan that is sure to creep you out with its intense and focused scares.  This film is actually the third in the series of Golem-inspired films; however, it is the only one that still survives.  Ironically enough, it is also the prequel and, as its full title suggests, explains “How He Came Into the World”.

The Jewish ghetto is haunted by a trio of events (all quick images here) that represent hope, a tyrannical government, and the shadow of a black cat wandering across rooftops.  Something is at work . . . and it has to do with clay.

This film, based on the ancient legend of Rabbi Loew (played here by Albert Steinrück), tells the story of a giant warrior (Wegener) and the people he is made to protect from the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II.  The film opens with a lot of astrology and, bucking its conservative budget, suggests a film that is very grand indeed.  Considering what happens later, this atmospheric beginning - with its large scope and its organic-looking set design - is very fitting.

Except the Rabbi’s assistant (Ernst Deutsch) wants the warrior (turned monster) for his own reasons and he takes control of him, forcing the creation to go awol and kidnap a child and set fire to the ghetto.  If it sounds like Frankenstein, it should be noted that this Hebrew legend WAS the basis for Mary Shelley’s book, but - thanks to a very believable world in which The Golem exists within (and its brilliant use of lighting) - this horror film is a arguably a prime example of German Expressionism.

The sets crackle with organic intentions - long before Alien - and looks very dream-like.  The story itself absolutely delivers with some heavy themes about reproduction and a man’s responsibility to his own creations while a chain of disasters follow in The Golem’s stiff walk to get groceries.  Look closely at the backgrounds and you will see some of the designs that influenced how Universal developed their monsters, specifically the movement and look of Karloff in FrankensteinThe Golem (1920)

There is no denying the fantastic cinematography of Karl Freund.  While he would later go on to film Metropolis, the beauty and atmosphere that he minted here with the photography of The Golem will always be the epic narrative that brought redemptive fantasy to a larger audience.  We have outside shots of the ghetto (in the sunlight) which absolutely burst with details and striking mood.

 While no original copy of the movie has survived, two original negatives - filmed at different angles - were put together to restore (as authentically as possible) the lost German version of The Golem: How He Came Into the World.

Fantastic shapes and faces await you!  The Golem, in all its mystical glory, is now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Classics.

5/5 stars

The Golem (1920)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- April 14, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Widely recognized as the source of the Frankenstein myth, the ancient Hebrew legend of the Golem provided actor/director Paul Wegener with the substance for one of the most adventurous films of the German silent cinema. Suffering under the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II in 16th-century Prague, a Talmudic rabbi (Albert Steinruck) creates a giant warrior (Paul Wegener) to protect the safety of his people. When the rabbi's assistant (Ernst Deutsch) takes control of the Golem and attempts to use him for selfish gain, the lumbering monster runs rampant, abducting the rabbi's daughter (Lyda Salmonova) and setting fire to the ghetto. With its remarkable creation sequence (a dazzling blend of religion, sorcery and special effects) and the grand-scale destruction of its climax, The Golem was one of the greatest achievements of the legendary UFA Studios, and remains an undeniable landmark in the evolution of the horror film.

Video:

Presented in 1080p high definition, The Golem (and even its color tints) have been restored lovingly and more depth and light than ever imagined. The HD upgrade and 2K preservation is worth the cost of this release alone. The set design is striking and filled with wondrous depth and detail the likes I have never seen before from ANY version of this movie.  The detail is fine and, at times, revolutionary in what it shows. Grain is good and constant throughout and the black-and-white images are neither blotchy nor inky.  This is a remarkable film that is made all the more clear from the work done on it.

Audio:

This is a silent film.  There are English titles below the original German titles.  The 4K restoration of The Golem features three audio tracks: one score by Stephen Horne, one by Admir Shkurtai, and a third by Lukasz “Wudec” Poleszak.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Bringing in both Superman and Frankenstein into his commentary, Film Historian Tim Lucas provides a fantastic commentary while discussing the making of the movie.

Special Features:

The 4K restoration of The Golem features three audio tracks: one score by Stephen Horne, one by Admir Shkurtai, and a third by Lukasz “Wudec” Poleszak.  There is also an audio commentary, comparisons, and another version, with music by Cordula Heth.

  • Stephen Horne Audio
  • Admir Shkurtai Audio
  • Lukasz “Wudec” Poleszak Audio
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
  • Comparison of German and U.S. Release Versions
  • U.S. Release Version, with music by Cordula Heth

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

The Golem (1920)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Carl Boese, Paul Wegener
Writer:
Henrik Galeen, Paul Wegener
Cast:
Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück, Ernst Deutsch
Genre
: Fantasy | Horror
Tagline:
The amazing adventure of the strangest figure ever filmed- unlike any production to ever reach the screen- tremendous in its realism- awe-inspiring in its remarkable action- the wonder of the generation. Thousands of people- whole cities destroyed- action that will make you grip your seat.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Famous Players-Lasky Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 19, 1921
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 14, 2020.
Synopsis: Suffering under the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II in 16th-century Prague, a Talmudic rabbi (Albert Steinruck) creates a giant warrior (Paul Wegener) to protect the safety of his people. When the rabbi's assistant (Ernst Deutsch) takes control of the Golem and attempts to use him for selfish gain, the lumbering monster runs rampant, abducting the rabbi's daughter (Lyda Salmonova) and setting fire to the ghetto.

The Golem (1920)

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video BADass B-Movies The Golem (1920) - Blu-ray Review
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes