(4/10) In a nutshell: A misogynist but still fairly entertaining sci-fi/fantasy film from Germany about a soulless woman artificially produced from the semen of a hanged murderer and the womb of a prostitute. Worth watching for the ever alluring Brigitte Helm in the lead.

Alraune. 1928, Germany (also known as A Daughter of Destiny, Unholy Love or Mandrake). Written and directed by Henrik Galeen. Based on the novel Alraune by Hanns Heinrich Ewers. Starring: Brigitte Helm, Paul Wegener, Iván Petrovich. Cinematography: Franz Planer. Produced by Helmut Schreiber for UFA. IMDb score: 6.2

Brigitte Helm as the evil seductress in Alraune.

Brigitte Helm as the evil seductress in Alraune.

This silent 1928 film is the best known, and by many critics described as the best, version of Alraune, or Mandrake – a 1911 novel by Hanns Heinrich Ewers. It stars one of the most noted actors and directors of German silent cinema, Paul Wegener, immortalized as The Golem (1914, 1920), and Brigitte Helm, best known as Maria/Maschinenmensch in Fritz Lang’s masterpiece Metropolis (review). It was directed by Henrik Galeen, best known as the screenwriter for classics like the original 1914 The Golem, Nosferatu (1922) and the 1926 remake of The Student of Prague. It tells the story of Alraune (Mandrake), a woman born from the seed of a hanged criminal from the womb of a prostitute (although in the edited English language version we get the impression that the prostitute is inseminated by the mandrake root found beneath hanged men). Continue reading