Das Wachsfigurenkabinett

The owner of a wax museum hires a young poet to write backstories for three of his wax figures – Caliph Harun al-Rashid, Ivan the Terrible, and Jack the Ripper. In each of the film’s three episodes, the love of a young couple (always recognisable as the writer and the daughter of the waxworks owner) is threatened by one of the fiends. Caliph Harun al-Rashid lusts after the wife of a baker, Czar Ivan carries a bride and groom off to his torture chamber, and Jack the Ripper lies in wait to ambush the daughter of the waxworks owner … This was the last film that graphic artist, set designer, and director Paul Leni (1885-1929) made before moving to Hollywood in 1926. He was strongly influenced by expressionist filmmaking, and created a consummate example of it here. Abstract sets, fantastical costumes, cinematographic extravagance, and consciously outré performances by the three leads – Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, and Werner Krauss. Altogether they made Waxworks a magic moment in Weimar era silent filmmaking, somewhere between art adventure and fun fair.
by Paul Leni
with Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauß, Wilhelm Dieterle, Olga Belajeff, John Gottowt, Paul Biensfeldt, Ernst Legal, Georg John
Germany 1924 English intertitles 81’ Tinting & Toned Rating R12


  • Emil Jannings
  • Conrad Veidt
  • Werner Krauß
  • Wilhelm Dieterle
  • Olga Belajeff
  • John Gottowt
  • Paul Biensfeldt
  • Ernst Legal
  • Georg John


Director Paul Leni
Screenplay Henrik Galeen
Dramaturgy Leo Birinski
Cinematography Helmar Lerski
Production Design Paul Leni, Fritz Maurischat, Alfred Junge
Costumes Ernst Stern
Assistant Director Wilhelm Dieterle

Produced by

Neptun-Film AG, für Universum-Film AG (Ufa)

Additional information

DCP: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, a cooperative project of the Deutsche Kinemathek and Cineteca di Bologna, at L’Immagine Ritrovata. Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM).

Paul Leni


Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020