CNR 2014: Movies: Jiri Barta (CZE): Golem

The well known Prague legend of the Golem may be the main subject of our movie, but it is by no means a mere adaptation of the classic story of the times of Emperor Rudolf II, Rabi Loewe, and the clay giant. Our story is based on a following legend of a curious student, who violated the prohibited entry of the Old-New Synagogue and brought to life the sleeping Golem through a Shem described in ancient books. By so doing he unleashed the energy of the Golem, without being able to stop it. The Golem grew enormously and buried the student.

We adapted the original, rather brief legend, into a feature-length movie taking place in contemporary Prague (2013). The math student Adam Hofman finds a large clay puppet in an old deserted hotel which he at first considers to be the Golem of Rabi Loewe. Together with his friend Jenny, he accidentally brings it back to life, thereby opening a Pandora's Box and initiating a series of  tragicomic events.

In a similar manner to the well-known Old Prague legend, in which the Golem goes crazy and turns against his creator and master, our obedient hotel servant turns into a dangerous monster  - a counter GOLEM -  a negative MELOG. The puppet grows into an enormous size, consolidates his power and in the capacity of a new director and owner of the hotel "Melog", he disseminates "the clay totalitarian ideology". He pours false illusions and fanaticism into Prague's city streets not only by producing demagogic slogans and symbols, but also in a more visible way - by spreading "clay epidemic" which gradually turns objects, streets and houses into a shapeless clay substance.

Adam's clay dream finishes with an escape from his  prison and a dramatic rise into the higher storeys of the collapsing hotel where, under strange and rather comic circumstances, he fights with the hotel director himself - the sovereign, doctor Melog. This is, however, not the noble fight with a dangerous creature threatening his life, but a fight with a sick derelict, who finally collapses, taking his megalomaniacal dream along with him. It falls into pieces, turned by the falling rain into thin mud and runs down the drain. The same way the nightmarish totalitarian regimes of the 20th century disappeared.

Our interpretation does not directly reflect the famous hero of Czech legend - Rabi Loewe.  He merely appears as a brief reminder at the beginning. It happens only indirectly in a scene with the old second hand bookshop owner Vielgut whose spiritual world contrasts sharply with the dull, inhuman clay element.

Clay - the material Golem was made of - is not only practical (it is easy to animate), but  is also a great artistic means for expressing dark and mysterious city atmosphere where Adam is bullied, put on trial, and jailed. It is necessary to point out, however, that in our story these two chapters of human history are portrayed as an absurd black comedy.

Our intention is not to make a conventional horror film with cheap sensational effects.  Our clay world may be dark but at the same time it is comic and grotesque. The savage scenes are softened by euphemistic metaphors and  are not merely a harsh naturalism.

The content of our movie is inseparably connected with the art form and specialized technology which we have already tested 20 years ago while making a short animated piece - we are talking about screening the processed image on an animated clay. This way an attractive effect is originated which, in today's terminology, could be labelled as  "mapping" only in a smaller scale.

Golem exhibition by Jirí Barta
Golem presentation by Jirí Barta & Edgar Dutka

[image source: Jirí Barta]
[source: Vive Les Robots!]

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Cafe Neu Romance 2014:


Jiri Barta 5

Meet the Director Jirí Barta and the Screenwriter Edgar Dutka when they are giving their presentation on the feature-length combined (live action and animation) Golem film.

The short movie Golem by Jirí Barta will be screened at Cafe Neu Romance on the 28 November 2014 at the Balling Hall of NTK.

Balling Hall, NTK
Technická 6
16080 Prague.