The Sunday Intertitle: Illegible Algol


From 1920, just after CALIGARI, comes ALGOL: TRAGODIE DER MACHT, starring Emil Jannings and John Gottowt, which has some expressionist set design (including an alien planet) as well as lots of L’Herbieresque High Style. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available in watchable form. This copy is so fuzzy you can’t even read the titles (which are in German, so reading them wouldn’t do me a lot of good anyway).

Fortunately, one of those groovy books of production design and architecture in the cinema — I forget which, I’ll try to find out — I got it out the University library — reproduces a bunch of mouth-watering stills which give a sharper idea of what a viewer might expect from the movie.


Planet Algol. A mysterious stranger from this world teleports to Earth and gives the protagonist a mysterious “Algol Machine” which creates power from nothing and makes him incredibly rich. Decades after the film was made, somebody (a relative of one of the filmmakers?) reconstructed the Algol Machine ~


I want one! Especially if it will make me incredibly rich (I’ll settle for “beyond the dreams of Croesus.” That seems a good level to aim for.)


A divine divan in a L’Herbier-like crib. The figure on the right is either a dancing girl or a very eager servant. The next shot looks extremely Caligaristic, though on closer inspection the effect is architectural and there are no painted shadows or crazy expressionist asymmetries.

algol20002Here’s some more suave interior design.


No chance of seeing the pattern of our power-mad protag’s suit in my fuzzy VHS-derived copy. Most of us wouldn’t want a view onto a power station from our window, but when it’s as stylised and palatial as this one…


I also got some production design drawings from the movie, but I’ll run those later.Why break your hearts?

Most of


7 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Illegible Algol”

  1. L’Herbier + Caligari and in the shot of the figure with his arm raised Reinhardt and Dieterle’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  2. The German expressionist influence certainly informed Dieterle — and Reinhardt informed the German expressionists.

  3. Restored!
    [video src="" /]
    Maybe string up some kind of net to catch your socks when they are blown off, because they will totally be blown off.

  4. Wait, what? A restored version? Fantastic, thank you. I was just about to ask you to post those drawings. Cheers, V

  5. I think I’ll publish them anyway, they’re rare!

  6. the Filmmuseum Munchen has posted the restored film (no translation for the German intertitles posted, but there translation files around the internet) on Vimeo:

  7. Many thanks, watching now!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: