Horror and Magic

Chapter 5 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM

Chapter 5: Horror and Magic

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.
URL: www.jmberlin.de/en/node/4705