Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Student of Prague (1913)

The Student of Prague (1913) also known as A Bargain with Satan  rocketed legendary horror actor Paul Wegener to stardom making him the world’s first horror star.   Wegener not only starred in this 1913 silent film he also co-directed it with Stellan Rye. The Student of Prague (1913) was a classy retelling of the tried but true “deal with the Devil” story.  In this case a young poor student falls in love with a beautiful countess after rescuing her.  The student then make a deal with a sorcerer named Scapanelli, (who is none other than Satan himself) who in exchange for the student’s reflection gives him anything he wants.  As the student pursues his heart’s desire he finds that his doppelganger (an exact double) is following him. The doppelganger frightens the countess and then kills her fiancĂ©' in a duel.  In the climatic ending the student takes a gun and shots the doppelganger but it is the student who is wounded by the gun shot and dies. The devil reappears, tears up the contact and then scatters the pieces over the student’s body.

With a run time of 1 hour 25 minutes, The Student of Prague (1913) which is hailed as the first true feature length film in history, premiered on August 22, 1913.  It is reported the some of the audience members actually screamed when the student’s image steps out of the mirror. Although this effect was achieved with the ever so common double exposure technique that effect had never been seen by the movie going audience at that time and made quite an impression.

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