Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, Fri., April 29, 2005
The Golem would be potter's refuse without its soundtrack. Set in 16th-century Prague, this 1920 silent film was written by, directed by, and starring Paul Wegener, but the German Expressionist classic, here on DVD with English dialogue cards, is brought to life like its titular clay monster by local music-scene veteran Mark Rubin and his klezmer posse. Scoring silent cinema live for an audience at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse is no small feat considering the breadth of instruments interspersed throughout. Somehow, Rubinchik's Yiddish Ensemble pulls it off. Their traditional songs are married to the picture as though it were never actually silent. In fact, the presence of five 21st-century men Rubin, Ben Saffer, Dr. Don Weeda, Michael Maddux, and cantor Neil Blumofe isn't even felt until the audience begins to clap along to a particularly joyous refrain, which happens several times. There's something about that tuba-accordion play that inspires energy. Rubin & Co. drive The Golem through scene after scene, displaying what a triumph this film was in its time. If that's not enough Yiddish, Rubin is also one-third of trad trio Hank Sapoznik & the Youngers of Zion, whose debut LP, Protocols, is a soundtrack for any Jewish celebration. Culture is so trampled these days, it's a blessing someone like Mark Rubin is keeping traditions alive.