Der Golem: The original horror film, unearthed and brought to life with an incredible live score
Posted 30 January 2019 about Der Golem + Live Score (HarmonieBand).
This Saturday, we are screening one of the great masterpieces of silent cinema, Paul Wegener’s Der Golem, accompanied by the live performance of a brand-new score by HarmonieBand - a three-piece ensemble who specialise in the live accompaniment of silent films.
Released in 1920, Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came Into This World) is a classic of German expressionist cinema every bit as powerful as Metropolis (1927) and Nosferatu (1922). The film was director Paul Wegener’s third, and final, version of the ancient Jewish myth, and his magnum opus.
Set in the Jewish ghetto of medieval Prague, the film opens with the Jewish community being threatened with removal from the city. Responding to this crisis, Rabbi Loew, the head of the city's Jewish community, begins to construct a monstrous figure out of clay – the mythical golem of the title. Calling upon ancient, mystical powers, the Rabbi brings this creature to life, hoping to protect his people.
With its foreshadowing of the Jewish persecution that was to come in Europe, Der Golem is a powerful and poignant piece of filmmaking - capped by inventive special effects, and exhilarating lighting and cinematography from the film’s photographer Karl Freund.
Wegener himself stars as the titular creature, and he cuts an imposing and impressive figure in his tactile, clay like costume and make-up - an extraordinary bit of physical special effects.
The film is also one of the earliest examples of the horror movie, and a clear precursor to the classic monster movies produced by Universal in the 1930s - Freund went on to work in Hollywood on classic horrors such as Dracula (1931) and The Mummy (1932).
The film has also been newly restored and will be presented in a brand new 4K digital restoration - produced from the original negative of the film that was thought to have been lost.
HarmonieBand has appeared at many film festivals and art centres throughout the UK and Europe, and they return to the Showroom Cinema after scoring The End of St Petersburg in 2017 and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr in 2014.The band features Geeta Nazareth on viola, Dai Pritchard on clarinet and saxophone and Paul Robinson on keyboards, accordion and dulcimer.
Der Golem + Live Score by HarmonieBand
Saturday the 2nd of February at 3pm.