Henrik Galeen

Active - 1914 - 1933  |   Born - Jan 1, 1881   |   Died - Jan 1, 1949   |   Genres - Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

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Actor, writer and director Henrik Galeen (AKA Henryk Galeen) played a vital role in the development of the German Expressionist movement. Many of the details of Galeen's life, such as his birthplace -- biographers think that he was most likely born in Holland, but may also have been from Czechoslovakia or Denmark -- have been lost. It is known that he was journalist before going to work for Hanns Heinz Ewers as a secretary, novelist and scenarist; Galeen may also have worked as an assistant to Max Rheinhardt in Berlin and acted on stage in Great Britain, Switzerland and France. He began appearing in films around 1910 and three years later became an assistant director for Stellan Rye's imaginative horror film Der Student von Prag (AKA The Student of Prague) In 1915 Galeen began the screenwriting aspect of his career with a version of a medieval Jewish legend Der Golem, which he co-directed with actor Paul Wegener. In 1915, Galeen penned and acted in an adaptation of Adalbert von Chamisso's doppleganger story Peter Schlemhil, which Rye directed. Galeen made his own directorial debut in 1920 with the drama Der Verebotene Weg (AKA The Forbidden Road). He scripted a sequel Der Golem: Wie in der Welt Kam in 1920 and this film is considered by many to be part of the expressionist ouevre though that may not have been Galeen's original intent. He made his greatest contributions to German expressionism with two screenplay's: his adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, for F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) and Paul Leni's 1924 masterpiece Wachsfigurencabinett (AKA Waxworks). After directing a couple more films himself, Galeen went on to direct the film for which he is best known, his remake of The Student of Prague in 1926. Galeen's version emphasized the psychological aspects of the tale of an impoverished student who makes a devilish bargain in exchange for wealth that results in the release of his evil mirror image. The film proved that Galeen was a master of subtlety and symbolism as did his next film Alraune, the story of a woman who is artificially inseminated with a fertilized egg from an executed killer and a prostitute. The resulting baby grows to be a great beauty with a murderous heart. After making another film with Harry Piel in 1927, Galeen moved to Britain. Two years later he made the thriller After the Verdict. The film did poorly in the U.K. and Galeen returned to Germany to make his final Salon Dora Green. It was released in 1933, the year Hitler took over the German government. Shortly thereafter, Galeen fled to the United States to lead an unheralded life that belied his great contributions to an influential period in German cinema.

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