Historically interesting film marred by production problems
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 12/02/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is the 1913--i.e., first silent--version of the film The Student of Prague and for that reason alone, is of great interest. Starring famed German silent actor Paul Wegener in the title role, it is a very short (40 minutes) rendition of a classic German tale of the supernatural, based on a short story by Hans Heinz Ewers, who wrote the great vampire novel Alraune.
In making this available, one would think that Alpha Video has done a great service. However, there are numerous problems with this release. Firstly, as previously pointed out in another review here, the video quality is only fair, marred by many of the typical scratches and visual blips common to non-remastered films from this period. Secondly, the title cards are so sketchy that there can be sizeable snatches of dialogue--i.e., we can see the actors' mouths moving--and only one title card is presented for the entire sequence. And thirdly, perhaps most importantly--this was also pointed out previously--the soundtrack music, apparently newly composed for this release, is organ music that has only two themes for the entire length of the film. Hence, the same series of notes is repeated almost endlessly. This, more than anything else, ruins the feeling, character, flavor, essence itself of the film.
While Alpha has made some great films available at low cost, and this is one of them, there is a huge difference between silent films and sound films. They should be very careful not to get rock bottom composers for their silent films who create slapdash soundtracks that either bore viewers to tears or make them want to throw things at the monitor.
The Alpha Video stable of sound films is a much better bet. This one, frankly, stinks. The two stars are for the availability of the film itself; that's it."
Mr Alexander Hunter | Surrey United Kingdom | 08/03/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The film itself, although not a masterpice, is a very interesting one and genuinely eerie. However, the DVD is so poor that I could hardly appreciate this at all. I understand that the film is over 90 years old, but it had clearly been copied from what looks like a very poor quality videocassette. Kino's releases of the Lumiere brothers' films are of FAR better quality, and they were made nearly 20 years before 'The Student of Prague'! Avoid it, unless you really desperately want to see the film, and even then I wouldn't recommend it."
No masterpeice paul
Lisa C. Mckenna | Blue Mountains, Sydney, NSW Australia | 07/19/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE'is the first manifistation of german expressionist horror in cinema and is thus of more historical importance then artistic.Technically the film is typical of european movies of the pre world war one era before d.w griffith's editing patterns would introduce the montage principal to europe.ALPHA'S print seems to have been duped from an VHS copy and is murky and dark in places and is also missing the final shot of balduin's doppelganger sitting mournfully over his tomb;also the organ score is bloody monotonous;still at the price you cant reallly quibble.Lets hope that image or kino international release a decent copy in the future."
The first expressionist film of the German cinema!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 05/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The student of Prague was the pioneer film to assume the seminal seed of what it would be known as Expressionism German. The film incorporates myths of Faust and the shattered mirror image .
An impoverished student in Prague commits the fatal mistake to establish a tragic pact, (on May 13, 1920) with a devilish emissary; the prize is simple: one hundred thousand gold coins and just one condition to release his own mirror image.
As you realize Jean Cocteau will employ this smart device in Orpheus decades later; and that fevered ambition to be admired and beloved by his new financial status will lead him to the well expected tragedy.
A milestone film to watch!