Being a product of the Silent era, this German variation on the Frankenstein theme actually preceded the definitive James Whale pictures; a rare (the copy I acquired was culled from an old Italian TV broadcast that I somehow missed out on) and still very little-known film despite the involvement of Henrik Galeen (THE GOLEM [1914 and 1920], NOSFERATU  and THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE ), Brigitte Helm (METROPOLIS ) and Paul Wegener (THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE , THE GOLEM [1914, 1917 and 1920] and THE MAGICIAN ) this is probably due to the fact that, in spite of some clear Expressionist trimmings, the plot is mainly treated as sophisticated melodrama! Especially disappointing for genre buffs is the fact that the creation scene is completely by-passed shown only in a split-second flashback towards the end when Alraune (Helm, a veritable femme fatale spawned from the mandrake root by ambitious alchemist Wegener) discovers her unnatural origin when she happens upon the scientist's diary! Galeen, however, demonstrates a sure eye for pictorial detail throughout (particularly when dealing with the carnival and casino settings) and the basically 'incestuous' relationship between creature and creator is treated with amazing sensitivity and depth for its time. The ending, then, is equally non-horrific as Alraune, resigned now to her soulless existence, goes away with her creator's long-infatuated nephew while Wegener pays the price for his tampering with nature by being left all alone.
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