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Part of the artificial-creature series encompassing Der Golem (1914 and 1920), Alraune (1918, 1928, 1930) and Metropolis (1926), 'Homunculus' was the most popular serial in Germany during World War I even influencing the dress of the fashionableset in Berlin. Foenss, a Danish star, is the perfect creature manufactured in a laboratory by Kuehne. Having discovered his origins, that he has no 'soul' and is incapable of love, he revenges himself on mankind, instigating revolutions and becoming a monstruos but beautiful tyrant, relentlessly pursued by his creator-father who seeks to rectify his mistake. Written by
BCULT - Rome, Italy
This was originally a super-serial, composed of feature-length episodes, and like Feuillade's LES VAMPIRES, was meant to play not only as a serial, but as a series. However, the only remaining copy of this is a cut-down of all six episodes, about an hour and a quarter in length, held by the George Eastman House and available at the moment for viewing on their website. My thanks to them for making this and several dozen other movies of the Teens and early Twenties more generally available.
While the are some great technical strengths to the movie, including some wonderful photography (notice the strong use of framing not by irising, as was still very common at this time, but by using structure and set decoration to change the effective frame size) and toning (a process in which the black silver nitrate is replaced by other compounds with colors, resulting in white whites, black blacks but colors instead of grays) and a good story which asks the question: is the soul born with the body, or the gift of god? Unfortunately, I find the style of acting to be rather over the top, involving a lot of rolling eyes. The net effect is very watchable, but not great.
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