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Galeen, Henrik

GALEEN, Henrik

Writer. Nationality: Danish (or Belgian, Czech, or Dutch). Born: Denmark (Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands are also given in various sources), 1882; given name also spelled Henryk and Heinrich. Career: Journalist (?), then actor; 1906—assistant to Max Reinhardt at Deutsches Theater, Berlin; later acted in Switzerland, England, and France; film actor as early as 1910; 1914—first film as writer and codirector, Der Golem; 1933—emigrated to the United States, then disappeared from view. Died: In 1949.

Films as Writer:


Der Golem (The Golem) (+ co-d, ro—short)


Die beiden Gatten der Frau Ruth (Biebrach—short); Die rollende Kugel (Biebrach); Peter Schlemihl (Rye) (+ ro)


Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem) (Wegener); Der verbotene Weg (+ d); Judith Trachtenberg (+ d)


Die geliebte Roswolskys (Basch); Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu the Vampire) (Murnau)


Stadt in Sicht (+ d)


Die Liebesbriefe der Baronin von S. (+ d); Auf gefährlichen Spuren (Verwehte Spuren) (Piel) (+ ro); Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks) (Leni)


Das Fräulein vom Amt (Liebe und Telephon) (Schwarz); Zigano, der Brigant vom Monte Diavolo (Zigano) (Piel) (+ ro)


Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague); The Man Who Cheated Life (+ d); Achtung Harry! Augen auf! (Sechs Wochen unter den Apachen) (Piel)


Alraune (Mandrake; Unholy Love; A Daughter of Destiny) (+ d); Sein grösster Bluff (Er oder ich) (Piel)


Die Dame mit der Maske (Thiele)


Schatten der Unterwelt (Piel)

Other Films:


Der Student von Prag (Rye) (asst d)


Das Haus ohne Lachen (ro)


After the Verdict (d)


Salon Dora Green (Die Falle) (d)


By GALEEN: books—

The Golem and Nosferatu (screenplays) in Films of Tyranny, edited by Richard B. Byrne, Madison, Wisconsin, 1966.

Nosferatu (screenplay) in Masterworks of the German Cinema, edited by Roger Manvell, London, 1973.

Nosferatu (screenplay) in Murnau, by Lotte Eisner, Berkeley, California, 1973.

Das Wachsfigurenkabinett: Drehbuch von Henrik Galeen zu Paul Lenis Film von 1923, Munchen, 1994.

On GALEEN: article—

Filmkultura, no. 12, January 1993.

* * *

Henrik Galeen, who was possibly of Danish, Dutch or Czech origin, became an actor in the early German theatre and (from 1910) in the German cinema. He was very soon to widen his career in film and establish himself both as a screenwriter and director of some importance, especially in the development of the Expressionist movement during the 1920s. As Lotte Eisner, in her invaluable book on the German Expressionist film, The Haunted Screen, has pointed out, Expressionist stylization in the art direction for fantasy and horror subjects actually preceded by some years its notable popularization in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari of 1919; it appeared for example in the earliest version of The Student of Prague, directed by Stellan Rye in 1913, in which the actor-director Paul Wegener starred. The following year Wegener made his early version of the mythological film, The Golem, also employing a pioneer form of the Expressionist style in order to establish the medieval form of magic of this strange Jewish legend. He was assisted by Galeen as both scriptwriter and director, and Galeen also acted in the film.

After this Galeen either directed, codirected, or wrote a number of silent films (Peter Schlemihl, Judith Trachtenberg), including coscripting another (1920) version of The Golem, directed by Wegener, who also played the title role. Among Galeen's greatest contributions to German cinema was the script for Nosferatu the Vampire, directed by one of Germany's most distinguished filmmakers, F.W. Murnau. Murnau's working script survives, and is the subject of detailed comment and generous quotation by Lotte Eisner in her book Murnau. Galeen's script was written in the Expressionist style much resembling blank verse established by Carl Mayer, who was in process of becoming Germany's outstanding scriptwriter for silent film; and the talents of Galeen and Murnau fused in this, still one of the most effective of the period's German "haunted" films. Galeen went on to write and direct more routine films (Stadt in Sicht, Die Liebesbriefe der Baronin von S.) before scripting another influential film in the Expressionist style, Waxworks, which Paul Leni directed, and which Siegfried Kracauer points out in his book From Caligari to Hitler as developing further the theme of tyranny in all its varied forms which Galeen had originated in Nosferatu. The film is a three-part feature fantasizing the power-crazed "tyrants" Harun-al-Raschid, Ivan the Terrible, and Jack the Ripper. In 1926 he directed and coscripted a later version of The Student of Prague starring Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss, again one of the most effective of Germany's silent "haunted" films, with emphasis on the psychology of Baldwin (Veidt) in his struggle with his doppelgäner, or alter ego, revealed as a hidden aspect of his own, individual psyche, and displaying Galeen's special skill in handling both fantasy and horror. Alraune (which Galeen coscripted and directed) followed, a study of a destructive femme fatale (Brigitte Helm), a woman created by artificial insemination as the child of a prostitute and a criminal who had been hanged.

Galeen bridged the silent and early sound film periods with less interesting work, coming to Britain for a short while, where he directed After the Verdict in 1929, a film scripted by Alma Reville, made during the difficult changeover from silent to sound film technique. He left Germany for the U.S. in 1933, when Hitler came to power, but made no films there. There are several references to his collaboration with Siegfried Kracauer on From Caligari to Hitler, but following this there appears to be no record of his activities.

—Roger Manvell

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