The themes of post-rock ~ cinematic vistas, light and dark, a sense of catharsis ~ are well-suited to scoring classic films, whose original soundtracks were often performed by a lone pianist. Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) just celebrated its centennial, and is now graced with a powerful new score from Italian post-rockers Stearica. The trio performed the music live, then revisited the work in the studio, molding it into this definitive edition as the golem was itself molded by its creator.
At 42 minutes, the new score is only half the length of the original film, and as such cannot be synched. One can, however, identify the scenes connected with each track, given the descriptions. While playing “How He Came Into The World (shaping his soul like clay),” one can watch ~ or simply imagine ~ the desperation that led to the creation of this clay monster. The drums pound out the suspense as the guitars swirl like living clay. The post-metal release of “The Great Spell” conjures mindscapes of lightning, reflecting those on celluloid. When the drums fall to pieces at the end of “The Shem (Golem comes to life),” followed by a short bout of ambience, one knows the world is about to be shattered, and responds with a hush. Classic film aficionados will have a blast playing match-up; but one may also enjoy the LP as a separate work, an aural homage to the vision of German expressionists Paul Wegener and Carl Boese.
As expected, the mid-section is softer, more reflective. The events have been set in motion, but have time to unfurl. The golem first saves the Jewish people (portrayed in the exciting “The Rose Festival Part II”), then turns on them. Just when it seems that all is lost, an innocent child stepping into danger, *spoiler alert* she climbs into the creature’s arms and removes its amulet. (Oh come on, you’ve had a hundred and one years to see it, don’t tell me I ruined it for you!)
The challenge of scoring a classic has resulted in a solid turn for Stearica: an album with a plot and musical trajectory, rife with conflict and hard-won resolution. We hope they will consider tackling more films, following in the footsteps of 3epkano and We Stood Like Kings. The canvas is there; all it needs is the paint. (Richard Allen)