Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 Days of Halloween: The Golem

German Expressionism is the perfect film movement to set the tone for Halloween; trippy, surreal, frightening, and alluring all at the same time. But while many of the movement’s golden era films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari get most of the credit, there’s a little known one, The Golem, which while hard to find doesn’t disappoint. Fearing the expulsion of his people, a Rabbi pulls upon his knowledge of the ancient Kabbalistic arts to create a Golem, a deadly minion made of river clay to protect the people. Unfortunately for the Rabbi, when his enemies get involved, things don’t work out as planned. Like Freaks, The Golem is not without controversy. A German film released in the early stages of the Nazi movement (1920), there’s debate as to whether or not the film is sympathetic to Jews in understanding the challenges and prejudices they face, or against them by portraying Jewish mysticism as akin to witchcraft. It is that sorcery, however, that makes the film interesting. While it’s not the all out surreal feast of Caligari, or anywhere near as creepy as the variety of vampire films of the time, when Directors Carl Boese and Paul Wegener do unleash their creativity, the work casts a devious and beautiful spell that feels like you’ve unlocked something truly inventive and mysterious.

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