October 25, 1926 - The Student of Prague

For Balduin, going out to beer parties with his fellow students and fighting out disputes at the tip of the sword have lost their charms. He wants to find love; but how would he, a penniless student, ever dare looking up to any woman worth of loving? Absorbed in his dreary thoughts and indifferent to the advances of Lyduschka, Balduin is unexpectedly offered a fortune by the mysterious money-lender Scapinelli – but on a strange condition…

Plot

In the year 1820, Balduin is a student at a university in Prague. At a student-led outing to a country inn, Balduin encounters the figure Scapinelli who offers him money “for very low interest.” Balduin believes him to be a loan shark and ignores him to go engage in a fencing match with another student.

After the match, the viewer sees Scapinelli on a cliffside, watching a young woman (later revealed to be Margit, the daughter of a count) on horseback who is participating in a boar-hunt. He manipulates the situation such that the animals run amok and head towards the inn. Margit’s horse runs away with her and Balduin catches her when she falls off. As a reward, she gives Balduin a crucifix which has fallen from her neck and later he receives an invitation to the house of her father, Count Schwarzenberg. There he becomes aware of his own poverty in comparison to Margit’s fiancé, who is a baron.

Later that night, Scapinelli again comes for Balduin and makes an offer. Balduin signs a contract stipulating that Scapinelli can have anything in the room he wants in return for 600,000 florin. Balduin signs and Scapinelli takes out a small bag and proceeds to pour the entirety of the 600,000 onto the table. Scapinelli then takes his part: Balduin’s reflection.

The scene then shifts to show the new lifestyle that Balduin is leading with his newfound fortune. His happiness does not last long, because his reflection, free of the mirror, runs amok, causing havoc around town, which is blamed on Balduin. Balduin, in his final confrontation, shoots his reflection. This results in his own death. The movie closes as it opens: with a shot of Balduin’s grave, upon which is inscribed “Here lies Balduin. He fought the devil and lost”.

Cast

Conrad Veidt as Balduin, The Student
Werner Krauss as Scapinelli
Elizza La Porta as Lyduschka, a flowergirl
Agnes Esterhazy as Margit von Schwarzenberg
Fritz Alberti as Count of Schwarzenberg, Margit’s Vater
Ferdinand von Alten as Baron of Waldis, Margit’s fiancé
Erich Kober as Student
Max Maximilian as Student
Sylvia Torf
Marian Alma
Horst Wessel extra in some scenes