Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Student of Prague (1913)

With a screenplay by the controversial German author Hanns Heinz Ewers (author of Alraune and the classic horror story "The Spider"), IMBD gives "The Student of Prague" the distinction of being the first horror film.

The story is another iteration of the Faustian bargain, but is effective in a way that most silent films are not for modern viewers. The Devil or his emissary has once again struck a deal with a hapless soul, in this instance stealing the very soul from the student's mirror. Mischief and tragedy result as Balduin's doppelganger materialises to interfere in his courtship of the Countess. This 41 minute film builds an adequate atmosphere of paranoia in portraying Balduin's realization of the full significance of his bargain. The special effects utilized in this 97 year old film are restrained yet effective (the double stepping from the mirror is like something out of a Bunuel film).

A good appreciation of this film and its context as a forerunner of German Expressionism in film can be found at

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