Monday, August 5, 2013

THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (1926)

The twenties are done, man!  As FAUST and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" taught us, one must be careful in transactions with Satan.  Contract chicanery is a given and Satan has not gotten bored with fleecing the marks despite his many aeons.  But student of Prague Balduin (Conrad Veidt) signs the paper, anyway, because he needs money to woo this rich aristocrat girl.  In the process, he spurns a poor flower girl.  But that is incidental, because moneylender Scapinelli (Werner Krauss) is yanking Balduin's double out of the mirror, not even bothering to hide his brimstone style.  

The version that I watched was so battered that I'm not going to bother with screenshots.  Little of this film seemed that visually impressive.  The sets were fine but unremarkable, the camera work pretty restrained.  The most singular element was probably the rollicking editing in the first fifteen minutes or so.  I'm not sure if this print was damaged and the clippy gabber tempo is the direct result of that, but it was very disorienting to see 10 seconds->CUT->10 seconds->CUT.  It's unfortunate that the rest of this doesn't show similar invention.  It's a reinvention of an oft-told tale and is professionally rendered, but lacks spirit and fire.  Big handicaps for Faustian horror.  

Sorry to end our twenties adventures on such a dull note.  STUDENT isn't terrible, but it's not exactly inspiring.  I think I'm going to post an unprecedented extra post this week to make it up to you and me.  So look forward to 1930 while you enjoy this final top ten...

RATING: 5/10

TOP TEN OF THE 1920S:
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 
2. Faust (1926)
3. The Golem (1920)
4. Nosferatu (1922)
5. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
6. The Man Who Laughs (1928)
7. The Unknown (1927)
8. Maciste in Hell/Maciste all'Inferno (1925)
9. The Wind (1928)
10. Der Müde Tod aka Destiny (1921)

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