Early Sci-Fi with Artificial Rats and Artificial People
Alraune is a 1930 German film with elements of science fiction and drama. The story follows a scientist, Privy Councillor ten Brinken, who discovers how to create artificial life, which is basically artificial insemination. After successfully creating dozens of "artificial rats", ten Brinken's ambition drives him to attempt to create an "artificial human". The Privy Councillor then raises his creation under the guise of an adopted niece.
Alraune has a fascinating plot and is a great example of an early science fiction film. The first act will draw you in as your imagination runs wild wondering could possibly happen next. The words used to send ten Brinken to conduct such an experiment, "Do you want someone else to beat you to it?" is an excellent motivation for the character. This removes some of the malice from his deeds and adds a tragic element to the whole affair. Wanting to be the best is a motivation anyone can relate to, especially when it is related to work or academia. But how far will you go to achieve such heights?
Despite how interesting the first act is, the film slows to a boring halt afterward. By the end of the movie, it is unclear exactly what the conflict of the story was. You would think that the bulk of the premise would be the main character's conflict with her identity, or something related. Or perhaps diving further into the Privy Councillor's other "expensive experiments". Instead, something intriguing happens in the beginning of the story, and that's really all there is to it. The film starts very strong but begins to atrophy after the first few scenes. There are a few spots of bad acting, but not enough to ruin a scene. For example, you may see the "stink- eye" or "hands-on- hips" type of overacting from a few of the supporting characters. Lastly, I found it difficult to keep track of which character was which. There is little character development before the film leaps forward seventeen years, leaving the viewer somewhat confused in the new setting.
Despite some of these flaws, Alraune is an intriguing film. The first act is fantastic, not to mention how interesting some of the scientific ideas are. There are many fun directions the film can go after the third act, leaving you with plenty of thriller/science fiction ideas of your own. Anyone interested in these genres will find plenty to like in this film.
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