German Horror Classics
Actor-director Paul Wegener made three films built around the mythical creature of Jewish legend: Golem was released in 1914, and a sequel of sorts, Der Golem und die Tänzerin, came out in 1917. This is the one film which has survived and is regarded among the landmarks of early German expressionism. In medieval Prague, Rabbi Loew (Albert Steinruck) observes the stars and concludes that trouble is brewing for his people. When the emperor issues a decree threatening the expulsion of Jews from the city, the rabbi, a master of magic, activates the Golem, a monstrous clay figure, to help save his congregation. The rabbi's daughter, Miriam (Lyda Salmonova, who also played this role in the 1914 film) is courted by two men, Famulus (Ernst Deutsch), the rabbi's assistant, and Knight Florian (Lathar Menthel), a messenger for the emperor. Famulus re-activates the Golem to vanquish his rival, and the monster goes berserk. Stylized sets and moody cinematography elevated Der Golem above the standard features of its time, its central figure has been the focus of a number of films produced in various countries, and the name has become a generic descriptor for any lumbering creature which can't be easily controlled.