Horror and Magic in the Silent Golem Movies

Scene: the golem looks at a half-lying dancer

In the light comedy The Golem and the Dancing Girl from 1917, Paul Wegener satirizes his own 1915 film The Golem; photo: Deutsches Filminstitut, Frankfurt a. M./estate Paul Wegener – collection Kai Möller

In January of 1915 the figure of a golem appeared for the first time on the silver screen, on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm. The public was captivated by a truly modern monster. At the same time, southeast of the Belgian city of Ypres battles of the First World War were raging. Following on the heels of this first silent golem movie came two more in 1917 and 1920, also debuting in Berlin. The lead role of the golem was played in all of them by Paul Wegener, who had also come up with the idea for the projects and written the screenplays.

In the current exhibition GOLEM (more on www.jmberlin.de/en/golem), a theme room has been dedicated to these three silent movies.  continue reading

A Golem is Going Around Berlin

The golem, a character from Jewish mythology, is currently present in an interesting exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin. But not only there.

Photograph of men dancing with dancing female robots

Yves Gellie, Human Version 2.08, Dancing Robot, Tohoku University, Japan; photo: Yves Gellie, galerie du jour agnès b

Guest article by Roberto Giardina, www.ildeutschitalia.com

In the foyer of the Museum for Communication, three robots – reminiscent of chess figures – are roaming around. They talk to the people walking up to them, stop and take a different route if you block their way, or accompany you when you walk next to them. Adults are just as fascinated as children. A visit to Berlin museums is fun, and doesn’t necessarily require you to speak German.

After playing on the ground floor at the Museum for Communication, you can visit the special exhibition on the Golden Section and have your forgotten school knowledge entertainingly refreshed (the exhibition Göttlich Golden Genial (godly golden genius) runs until 26 February, more on the Museum for Communication website (in German)).

Robots are fun to play with, but they have been the stuff of nightmares since time immemorial – will they take our jobs away from us soon?  continue reading

From poster stamps to animal card collections: on small collectors and big crazes

“Poster stamps?” A short pause, a puzzled look. “And… what are poster stamps?” This was more or less the reaction of every one of my friends and acquaintances when I told them these last months about ‘what I’m working on at the museum right now’. Namely, an exhibition on poster stamps.

Poster stamp with a man, out of his hat are falling poster stamps

Poster stamp from the publisher M. Fickel © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe, gift of Peter-Hannes Lehmann

Poster stamps, I would answer, are small promotional pictures, a little bigger than stamps. They were used as advertisements for products and stores just about exactly a hundred years ago. Some of the stamps were designed by well-known artists like Lucian Bernhard and people would collect them, particularly children.

I didn’t know much more than that about these poster stamps before I started researching for our cabinet exhibition “Pictures Galore and Collecting Mania – Advertising in Miniature”. The show begins on 4. December, 2014 and lasts until 31. May, 2015 at the Rafael Roth Learning Center. To learn more about the relevance that the stamps had before World War I, I began reading contemporary advertising manuals and magazines.
At first I found relatively little on the subject,  continue reading