Prague, around 1820. Impoverished student Balduin sells his reflection in the mirror to the profiteer Scapinelli for 100,000 guilders. The deal appears to pave the way for Balduin’s ascent into high society, and he even wins the affections of Countess Margit. But Margit’s fiancé, Baron Waldis-Schwarzenberg, learns of their dalliance and challenges Balduin to a duel. The student promises Margit and her father that he will spare the baron’s life, but Balduin’s reflection, now a full-fledged doppelganger, appears at the duel and kills the rival. Margit and the rest of Balduin’s new acquaintances soon scorn him, so the next time he meets his alter ego, he draws a pistol and shoots at his reflection … Filmed on location in Prague, this is an early classic of the fantasy genre. The film’s doppelganger theme stems from literary roots in Romanticism. It was dubbed an "art film", since the technical prowess of cinematographer Guido Seeber, and his avant-garde double exposures to signify the appearance of the alter ego, mark the work as a genuine cinematic opus. Piano virtuoso Josef Weiss, who had studied with Liszt, wrote original music to accompany the film. The composition, which survived as sheet music, was one of the first original "film scores" in history.
by Hanns Heinz Ewers
with Paul Wegener, Grete Berger, Lyda Salmonova
Germany (through 1945) 1913