Watch the German Expressionist Film, The Golem, with a Soundtrack by The Pixies’ Black Francis

As cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly savvy Open Cul­ture read­ers know, most films of the silent era have fall­en into the pub­lic domain, mak­ing them easy to watch on the inter­net. Sev­er­al of the choic­est have found their way into our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online. Any­one with an inter­net con­nec­tion can thus give them­selves an ear­ly-film edu­ca­tion that would have been unthink­ably con­ve­nient just twen­ty years ago, but the oppor­tu­ni­ties stretch out even fur­ther than that. Cer­tain enter­pris­ing musi­cians have seized the oppor­tu­ni­ty to re-score these freely avail­able silents, revi­tal­iz­ing the era’s clunk­ers and mas­ter­pieces alike with son­ic styles that the com­posers of those days could nev­er have even imag­ined. Above, you’ll find one of Weimar Ger­many’s finest expres­sion­ist films, The Golem: How He Came Into the World, brought to life like the clay stat­ue of its title by a dri­ving, jan­gling, rock-oper­at­ic score cour­tesy of one Black Fran­cis.

If you’re unfa­mil­iar, Black Fran­cis, also know as Frank Black, fronts the rock band the Pix­ies. If you’re unfa­mil­iar with them, you prob­a­bly don’t tend to admit it in mixed com­pa­ny, since the com­bi­na­tion of their star­tling­ly wide­spread influ­ence (Kurt Cobain called “Smells Like Teen Spir­it” an attempt to “rip off the Pix­ies”) and endur­ing avoid­ance of the main­stream has earned them enor­mous rock-enthu­si­ast cred­i­bil­i­ty. Film geeks, for their part, prob­a­bly won’t give you a hard time about not hav­ing seen Paul Wegen­er’s the Golem tril­o­gy, since two of the three have been lost. Though it came out in 1920 as the third Golem film, How He Came Into the World, a pre­quel to both its pre­de­ces­sors, tells the ori­gin sto­ry of its title crea­ture of Jew­ish leg­end. Cre­at­ed to pro­tect the Cho­sen Peo­ple of 16th-cen­tu­ry Prague, the mute inhu­man colos­sus soon turns against his mak­ers. Watch what hap­pens, in a cul­tur­al three-for-one to begin your week, with cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er Karl Fre­und’s manip­u­la­tion of shad­ow and light (which he lat­er showed off in Metrop­o­lis and Drac­u­la), Black Fran­cis’ casu­al­ly com­plex rock mag­pie-ism, and the dis­tinc­tive sto­ry­telling sen­si­bil­i­ty that pro­duced the golem fable in the first place. (It’s avail­able on DVD here.)

The Golem, fea­tur­ing a sound­track by Black Fran­cis, has been added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

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Relat­ed con­tent:

Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis: Uncut & Restored

Lost Films: Iden­ti­fy Miss­ing Cin­e­ma Through Crowd­sourc­ing

The Pow­er of Silent Movies, with The Artist Direc­tor Michel Haz­anavi­cius

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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