The Golem: How He Came Into the World is the prequel to Henrick Galeen's The Golem (1913) that was filmed after the fact. This time out German writer/director/actor Paul Wegener gives us the most successful take on the Golem legend. The story begins among the Jews of Prague who are exiled in an edict from the Emperor. Rabbi Loew uses dark magic to animate his clay Golem [played by Wegener] and protect the community. [This is where the anti-Semitism comes in.] The sets are breathtakingly creative, especially the Jewish Ghetto with its misshapen roof lines and asymmetrical house construction. The main room of the rabbi's house, in particular, looks a bit like the structure on an inner ear.
The Golem is based on a legend found in Jewish mysticism. I had never heard it before so I enjoyed being introduced to it. The special effects used in the film are quite excellent for the period and while The Golem is not as menacing as The Phantom of the Opera (1925) the character is consistent with its clay origins. While watching this film I saw the seeds of Frankenstein (1931) as well as a bit of King Kong (1933). THe restored print is very good and the music on the 2002 version is quite effective in helping to tell the story.
While The Golem did not have the same emotional impact on me as Nosferatu (1922) or Häxan (1922) I appreciate its place in film history and consider it a must see film of the silent era. To be honest, I've watched a number of modern horror films that did a lesser job in terms of creativity and storytelling. Give this one a chance.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.