Henrik Galeen – A Film Author of Weimar Cinema

The German film theorist Siegfried Kracauer described the actor, screenwriter and director Henrik Galeen, who was born in 1881 in Lemberg (then Austria-Hungary, now Lviv in Ukraine), as “an expert on fantastic horror films.” At first glance, this is an understandable statement: Galeen co-wrote creepy silent-film classics like NOSFERATU (1922) or DAS WACHSFIGURENKABINETT (“Waxworks,” 1924) and directed the horror movies DER STUDENT VON PRAG (“The Student of Prague,” 1926) and ALRAUNE (1927).

However, it would be inadequate to reduce Galeen to just one genre. His largely lost work in front of and behind the camera also included adventure and detective stories as well as realistic and chamber dramas, such as the silent film STADT IN SICHT (“City in View”, 1923), rediscovered by Filmarchiv Austria in early 2000, in which the action takes place almost entirely on a boat. Based on a script by Mrs. Alma Hitchcock, he directed the crime thriller AFTER THE VERDICT (1929) in England in the late 1920s. Galeen then briefly returned to Germany, before he emigrated to the USA via Sweden in 1933. Although he was sporadically in touch with other exiled filmmakers there, he primarily worked in areas outside of film. After a long bout of cancer, he died in Vermont in 1949.

The retrospective presents preserved and newly restored works by Galeen, thus enabling a (re)encounter with one of the first veritable film auteurs who found his very own cinematic language.

A program by Filmarchiv Austria.​​​​​​​