This film is a quiet, Gothic kind of psychological film, and is interesting and well enough made so as to be watchable in a poorly dubbed US version. I found the actress in the title role to be strangely compelling, and convincingly portrayed sexual attraction with slightly disturbing aspects.
Eric Von Stroheim plays a perverted scientist, which is interesting because Von Stroheim is said to have induced an actual orgy among actors in order to film an orgy scene in one of the silent movies he directed. Stroheim, in his famous roles in Grand Illusion and Sunset Boulevard, was adept at playing formerly great and tragically flawed characters: this role is an interesting variation on this theme.
This film was made in 1952, in Germany, and is concerned with scientist who collects semen from an executed criminal and uses it to impregnate a prostitute; the offspring of this union is the title character. This movie would have had a strong resonance upon its original audience, just 7 years after the end of the Nazi period.
The Nazis, besides having many kinky sexual fetishes, instigated some strange 'breeding' programs designed to induce blonde-haired and blue-eyed people to reproduce. There were hostels, where these blonde and blue-eyed women could stay during their pregnancy, and where they and their offspring could live afterwords, free of charge and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.
Alraune is the German word for the mandrake root. In folk legend, the mandrake grew beneath the hanged man, and it was the legendary discharge of semen from a hanged man which supposedly caused this plant to grow. In addition, there was another legend in which the mandrake, applied to a woman's nether regions, could instigate a pregnancy, with or without sexual contact from a living man.
This is a slow moving but strangely compelling film, and owes a lot to the beautiful actress in the title role. The subtext is also fascinating.
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