1920 [GERMAN]

Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

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951.87 MB
German 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 43 min
P/S 3 / 18
1.72 GB
German 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 43 min
P/S 13 / 33

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by the_mysteriousx7 / 10

Ancient sci-fi

ALGOL is a sci-fi morality tale from the Germans following WWI. It is much closer in style to CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI than to the impending works of Lang and Murnau. ALGOL has some interesting Expressionist tendencies, all aimed at the tragic life of the main character, Robert Werne, played by Emil Jannings.

The most interesting part of the film is its science fiction core. An alien from a far away star is beamed to earth and meets Robert Werne. It is very much in vein of the "selling your soul to the devil" films that were popular at this time - in fact the star, Algol, is called a 'devil star'. The alien promises Werne an energy source that can take him far beyond his drudging work of shoveling coal. From this incredible secret, Werne becomes the most powerful man in the world - providing the world with the energy current it needs. Sort of like the Bill Gates story substituting energy for computers. Unlike Gates, however, there is no happiness in the ends of these means.

Jannings is a few years away from THE LAST LAUGH and THE LAST COMMMAND. Maybe, too he need directors on the level of Von Sternberg and Murnau to push him for a large performance. His acting, while excellent, is not on the level of those later works. As a whole, this is very old-fashioned. Again, like CALIGARI, this is rather two-dimensional and lacks the sophisticated touch that would have made it a tour-de-force. The art direction makes up for this. The highly stylized main hall of Werne's home seems to be as long as its distant vanishing point. There are some nice artistic shots of the night skies, showing where the Algol star is located. The costumes are equally stylized, and if the print I viewed were better, I'd imagine some great detail would be evident.

Ultimately, this original alien premise settles into a morality tale and is about the abuse of power and how too much power can overcome a single person. In real life, Bill Gates was able to find that donating much of his huge wealth would become an extremely large project and very worthy of his time and consideration. ALGOL does not even try to ask the question of whether something good could be made of this power. It is too primitive in that way. However, it remains an impressive attempt at sci-fi and reflects well the time and place it was made.

Reviewed by Hitchcoc7 / 10

Faustian Expressionism

I made it through this by dredging up a bit of my college German (the dialogue boxes are in German) and managing to get about a fourth of it and extrapolating the rest. This is more of a film about the evils of ambition than a science fiction film. Once the alien (devil) has had his way with Robert Herne, it now is about him. Herne is given immense power in the form of machine that can produce electricity for the world. Instead of seeing the potential for making things better for humanity, the former lowly coal miner becomes a boss, using his riches for outrageous purposes. He throws away all the relationships he has and pretty much turns his son into a monster. He doesn't seem to get much enjoyment out of the rich, who hang on his every word, but he can't let go. There is a little bit of Von Stroheim's "Greed" here, though that is quite another story. It does go on to tell a morality tale of the life on the farm versus the evils of usurping businesses, the bucolic winning out. But is it really about socialism being the answer? I really believe that this is more about personal evil. If there is anything unfair, it is a basic view of humanity. Here it is simplistic and outrageous. Is there no middle ground here. Apparently, there is no merchant class. People revel in Bacchanalian orgies when given the chance. Anyway, this is a groundbreaking movie whose intentions laid the foundation for future German expressionism, even if it failed at times.

Reviewed by rogerskarsten9 / 10

Turning Power into Might

The early 21st century has witnessed increasing debate about the world's energy resources; the production, control and distribution of oil and electricity carries not only political and financial implications, but ethical ones as well. Hans Werckmeister's ALGOL, made shortly after the first World War, when coal shortages and rising energy costs were crippling the already hard-hit Weimar Republic (Germany),is a mirror of contemporary concerns surrounding the technology of the modern age.

The alien-demon Algol's "gift" to Robert Herne, the hard-working coal-miner (played by Emil Jannings),is the secret to building a perpetual energy source powerful enough to light the whole world. Yet Robert Herne ultimately is seduced by the power this device brings him as the "ruler of the world", and refuses to surrender the secrets of the machine for the good of mankind. Robert's ideological counterpart is Maria (Hanna Ralph),his one-time girlfriend and co-worker in the coal mine, who disapproves of his greed and retreats to a neighboring agrarian country to live off the land. This contrast between industrialized modernity (typically represented by decadent, stylized Expressionist sets) and traditional agrarian society (represented by naturalism, scenes shot outdoors, and use of realistic sets) is a striking aspect of Werckmeister's film. The construction of the narrative (consisting of a prologue and four acts) is carefully balanced, with effective character development. Direction, photography, and performances are all uniformly excellent. The (perhaps too abrupt) ending brings about an epiphany for Robert Herne, who comments ironically on his fate.

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