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Horror and Magic

Chapter 5 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction

Martina Lüdicke

The most famous film presentation of a golem is Paul Wegener’s silent film The Golem: How He Came into the World. Actor and director Wegener made three golem films in just a few years—in 1915, 1917, and 1920. He played the golem himself in all three films and left his mark like no one else on the image of the clumsy, robot-like golem with a distinctive hairstyle.

Neither of the golem films that Wegener made during the First World War have survived in their entirety. Whereas the 1915 film already emphasized the threatening and monstrous traits of a golem who gets out of control, the second film, from 1917, entitled The Golem and the Dancing Girl, was conceived as a comedy.

Paul Wegener’s third golem film, produced in 1920, was a masterpiece which literally brought the golem into the world and was a milestone as it were in the horror film genre. The phantasmagorical, expressionistic film backdrop by Hans Poelzig and Marlene Moeschke offered a unique formal language and, for the first time in film history, a three-dimensional film set that the actors could actually enter and stand upon.

Martina Lüdicke majored in Literature Studies and works at the Jewish Museum Berlin, where she has curated the exhibitions Chrismukka, How German is It?, The Whole Truth... Everything you always wanted to know about Jews and Snip it! Stances on Ritual Circumcision.

Citation recommendation:

Martina Lüdicke (2016), Horror and Magic. Chapter 5 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction.

Golem als Actionfigur (Ausschnitt)

Online Edition of the GOLEM Catalog: Table of Contents

The Golem in Berlin: Introduction by Peter Schäfer
Chapter 1
The Golem Lives On: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
My Light is Your Life: Text by Anna Dorothea Ludewig
Avatars: Text by Louisa Hall
The Secret of the Cyborgs: Text by Caspar Battegay
Chapter 2
Jewish Mysticism: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem Magic: Text by Martina Lüdicke
Golem, Language, Dada: Text by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 3
Transformation: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Jana Sterbak’s Golem: Objects as Sensations: Text by Rita Kersting
Crisálidas (Chrysalises): Text by Jorge Gil
Rituals: Text by Christopher Lyon
A Golem that Ended Well: Text by Emily D. Bilski
On the Golem: Text by David Musgrave
Louise Fishman’s Paint Golem: Text by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 4
Legendary Prague: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem Variations: Text by Peter Schäfer
Rabbi Loew’s Well-Deserved Bath: Text by Harold Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Chapter 5
Current page: Horror and Magic: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem and a Little Girl: Text by Helene Wecker
The Golem with a Group of Children Dancing: Text by Karin Harrasser
Bringing the Film Set To Life: Text by Anna-Carolin Augustin
Golem and Mirjam: Text by Cathy S. Gelbin
Chapter 6
Out of Control: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem—Man Awakened with Glowing Hammer: Text by Arno Pařík
Dangerous Symbols: Text by Charlotta Kotik
Be Careful What You Wish For: Text by Marc Estrin
Chapter 7
Doppelgänger: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
From the Golem-Talmud: Text by Joshua Cohen
Kitaj’s Art Golem: Text by Tracy Bartley
The Golem as Techno-Imagination?: Text by Cosima Wagner
See also
GOLEM: 2016, online edition with selected texts of the exhibition catalog
GOLEM: 2016, complete printed edition of the exhibition catalog, in German
Golem. From Mysticism to Minecraft: Online Feature, 2016
GOLEM: Exhibition, 23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017

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