6.9/10
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12 user 8 critic

The Man Who Cheated Life (1926)

Der Student von Prag (original title)
For Balduin, going out to beer parties with his fellow students and fighting out disputes at the tip of the sword have lost their charms. He wants to find love; but how would he, a ... See full summary »

Director:

Henrik Galeen

Writers:

Hanns Heinz Ewers (novel), Henrik Galeen (book)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Conrad Veidt ... Balduin, ein Student
Elizza La Porta Elizza La Porta ... Liduschka, Blumenmädchen (as Elizza la Porta)
Fritz Alberti Fritz Alberti ... Graf Schwarzenberg
Ágnes Eszterházy ... Comtesse Margit, seine Tochter (as Agnes Esterhazy)
Ferdinand von Alten Ferdinand von Alten ... Baron Waldis-Schwarzenberg, Margits Vetter und Verlobter
Werner Krauss ... Scapinelli, Wucherer
Erich Kober Erich Kober ... Student
Max Maximilian Max Maximilian ... Student
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Storyline

For Balduin, going out to beer parties with his fellow students and fighting out disputes at the tip of the sword have lost their charms. He wants to find love; but how would he, a penniless student, ever dare looking up to any woman worth of loving? Absorbed in his dreary thoughts and indifferent to the advances of Lyduschka, Balduin is unexpectedly offered a fortune by the mysterious money-lender Scapinelli - but on a strange condition... Written by Eduardo Casais <eduardo.casais@nokia.com>

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Genres:

Drama | Horror

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User Reviews

 
Haunting
9 July 2020 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Conrad Veidt was a great actor who we lost far too young, have loved them ever since being captivated by his Jaffar in one of my favourites 'The Thief of Baghdad'. There are many classic silent films, such as the best of FW Murnau, Fritz Lang, Abel Gance, DW Griffith and GW Pabst. The story, which reminded me a lot of Goethe's 'Faust', sounded really interesting and the expressionistic visual style has been done so well many times.

'The Student of Prague' deserves a lot more credit than it gets at the moment. It is not one of my favourites and is not quite perfect, but there are so many good, brilliant even, things that made 'The Student of Prague' a very memorable experience for me. Not quite among the best of my recent first time viewings, but one of the most interesting and most unique because of its visuals and atmosphere. Anybody who hasn't seen it yet and has an interest to, definitely do so.

Don't know where to start with the praise, but will start with the visuals. Visually and technically, 'The Student of Prague' is another silent film to be a triumph. The sets are elaborate and hauntingly expressionistic, the effects are generally remarkably accomplished (occasionally showing their age though) and the lighting has a real eeriness, but the standout is for me some of the best cinematography for any film of the late 20s. It is the complete opposite of static and is actually wildly imaginative. Making for some memorable images, like Scapanelli on the mountaintop, the snatching of the love letter with great use of shadow and the rescue scene. The music may not be one of the most inspired or memorable music scores in the world, but it at least is not discordant with what happens and has an unsettlement.

Although the story is imperfect in terms of pacing, it just captivates atmosphere-wise. There is a genuine creepiness and the confrontations leaves one glued to the edge of the seat. The dramatic highlight is the final confrontation, which is nothing short of hair-raising. Both Balduin and especially Scapinelli are fascinating characters and the chemistry between Balduin and the reflection is immediately intriguing and stays that way throughout. Veidt is very dashing and charismatic but also chilling when necessary. Werner Krauss is every bit as good and while he has fun as Scapinelli he also sends shivers down the spine. The film is superbly directed, especially in the final confrontation.

It's not perfect but actually doesn't have an awful lot wrong with it. It's flawed pace-wise, with some draggy scenes. Such as a party scene that is overlong and adds nothing.

Elizza La Porta is charming enough but her character isn't as meaty and she doesn't have the same amount of charisma that Veidt and Krauss do. As a few have said, the print is pretty shoddy but not enough to render 'The Student of Prague' unwatchable.

On the whole, very good and deserves more credit. 8/10


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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

None | German

Release Date:

26 December 1926 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Cheated Life See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sokal-Film GmbH See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD) |

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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