The Golem (1915 film)

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The Golem
Directed byPaul Wegener
Henrik Galeen
Written byPaul Wegener
Henrik Galeen
Produced byHanns Lippmann
StarringPaul Wegener
Rudolf Blümner
Carl Ebert
Henrik Galeen
Lyda Salmonova
CinematographyGuido Seeber[1]
Release date
  • 15 January 1915 (1915-01-15)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryGerman Empire
German intertitles

Der Golem (German: Der Golem, shown in the US as The Monster of Fate) is a 1915 German silent horror partially lost film, written and directed by Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen. It was inspired by a Jewish folktale, the most prevalent version of the story involving 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel who created the Golem to protect his people from antisemites.[1] Wegener claimed the film was based on Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel The Golem, but, as the movie has little to do with existing Jewish traditions, Troy Howarth states "it is more likely that (the screenwriters) simply drew upon European folklore".[1]

The film was the first of a trilogy produced by Wegener, followed by The Golem and the Dancing Girl (1917) and The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920).


In modern times, an antiques dealer (Henrik Galeen) searching the ruins of a Jewish temple, finds a golem (Paul Wegener), a clay statue that had been brought to life four centuries earlier by a Kabbalist rabbi using a magical amulet to protect the Jewish people from persecution. The dealer resurrects the golem as a servant, but the golem falls in love with Jessica (Lyda Salmonova), the dealer's daughter. When she does not return his love, the golem goes on a rampage and commits a series of murders.



Co-writer/co-director Henrik Galeen played a major role in the film (which was unusual for him) and years later went on to co-create other silent horror classics, such as F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) and Paul Leni's Waxworks (1924)[1]

Actress Lyda Salmanova went on to marry Paul Wegener.[1]

The few surviving clips from this film show Wegener in a costume almost identical to the one he used in his later 1920 version, and "show him stumbling around in a manner he would repeat in the later film", according to Troy Howarth.[1]


Preservation status[edit]

The Deutsche Kinemathek film archive possesses "108 meter fragments".[2] While many sources consider it a lost film, states that a "print exists",[3] and Professor Elizabeth Baer notes in her book The Golem Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction that Donald Glut claimed in The Frankenstein Legend that "European film collector" Paul Sauerlaender tracked down "a complete print" in 1958; Baer is careful, however, to point out that "Glut provides no source for this information."[4]

Quotes in popular culture[edit]

In Season 6, Episode 9 of the television show, Mad Men, Roger Sterling (John Slattery) refers to the film in conversation with his daughter. She admonishes Roger for taking his young grandson to see Planet of the Apes and Roger replies: “Listen, I saw "The Golem" when I was his age. You don't even know what scary is.” [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 150.ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  2. ^ "Der Golem". Deutsche Kinemathek. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  3. ^ "Der Golem". Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Baer, Elizabeth R. (April 16, 2012). The Golem Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction. Wayne State University Press. p. 196. ISBN 9780814336274.

External links[edit]