Der Golem / The Golem

It’s Halloween, so what better way to celebrate than with a Jewish Horror Movie from 1920? The Golem taps into Jewish folklore’s concept of a golem- a clay or mud statue that usually brings with it supernatural powers. In Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen‘s filmed version, the Golem comes to life!

Yes, The Golem is a Jewish Frankenstein, tapping into the same beast and beauty vibe that later gave us King Kong. It’s also an early example of German Expressionism in cinema, and for a silent movie that’s a 100 years old, the visuals hold up pretty darn well. Shot by Karl Freund, who went on to shoot Lang’s masterpiece, Metropolis, this shouldn’t be that surprising.

The Golem is actually the final film in this early 20th Century blockbuster trilogy, not that different from today’s superhero flicks cluttering up the theaters (or what’s left of them.) Like Spidey and Clark Kent, this Golem was a hit with audiences worldwide, from Berlin to New York City, setting records for movie attendance and starting a short-lived Golem fad. Some things never change.

Alas, out of the three films, only this one, whose full title is The Golem: How He Came into the World survives. And though this film is in the public domain, we’re giving you a version with a modern twist: in 2008, the great Black Francis of the Pixies was asked to provide the film with a score… and score it he did, which is the version we present to you here. It’s really less a score than a rock album glued onto a movie, but Francis is such a brilliant pop composer, the experience still works. If you’re offended by this idea, simply hit MUTE and enjoy the film as it was meant to be seen.

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