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Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin

TODAY IN BERLIN: JANUARY 15th, 1915 – “THE GOLEM”

still from the golem 1915

Paul Wegener´s and Heinrich Galeen´s “The Golem”, a silent movie and one of the last films made in the Imperial Germany, has its première in Berlin. It took place at the famous UT Kurfürstendamm cinema in Charlottenburg.

The script, based on the ancient Jewish legend, tells the story of a man-made and man-like creature created in Prague centuries ago by a local rabbi. Discovered by chance during demolition of an old house, it is passed onto an antique dealer who quickly sees the importance of the find and chooses to bring the clay creature back to life.

After the magic formula of Rabbi Loew had been spoken, the golem indeed awakes. But instead of serving his new master as expected, it develops human feelings, which, obviously, simply cannot end well: the golem gets hurt by unrequited love and goes on a murderous rampage through the city of Prague.

The outdoor scenes were filmed in Hildesheim, however, the interior scenes of the film, produced by the Deutscher Bioskop GmbH, were recorded in the brand new studios in Neubabelsberg. The studios were the core of the future world-famous Potsdam studios operating until today.

The role of the golem was played by the director himself: the larger-than-life Paul Wagener, who famously filled every room with his presence both metaphorically and literally speaking.

Five years later, unhappy with the result, Wegener will make another Golem film with himself as the main character: “Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam” (“The Golem: how he came into the world”). Just like George Lucas with “Star Wars” years later, he produced in fact a prequel.

As for the cinema where the première took place, which upon its opening in 1913 impressed the audience to such a degree that they hardly paid any attention to the film they were watching (“Die insel Der Seligen” directed by an another Berlin famous, Max Reinhardt), it can still be admired at the old address, Kurfürstendamm 26. As the giant Berlin Apple Store.

The 1250-metre-long film exists today only in fragments (108 pieces to be exact). Here are some of them. Silent, of course:-)

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