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Golem. In traditional Jewish myth the Golem is an animated creature molded and shaped from inanimate material and given life by the name of God, or the Hebrew word “emet” (truth), being inscribed on the creature’s forehead. In 1915 the Golem appeared in the Paul Wegener-written and Henrik Galeen-directed German film Der Golem.

The film follows the medieval legend: in 1580 in Prague Rabbi Loew creates a golem out of clay to help protect the Jews of Prague from the King. At some point after that the golem is buried in rubble and is not discovered and revived until the 20th century. Workers uncover the golem and sell it to Gelehrter, an antiquarian, who animates it and puts it to use as a servant. The golem falls in love with Jessica, Gelehrter’s daughter, and eventually goes mad from unrequited love. The golem goes on a rampage in Berlin before finally falling off a roof and dying.

* I'm including Der Golem in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because it's a classic of European silent horror film. It really is as simple as that. Although it is, in all likelihood, a lost film--only brief film clips survive--what little we can see from the film, and what we know about the contemporary reception of the film, we do know that Der Golem had an impact on its viewers and was successful enough that there were two sequels made to it. 

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