Archive of films Golem: The Petrified Garden / Golem: Le jardin pétrifié

France / Israel / Russia
1993, 84 min

Section: The Golem Trilogy by Amos Gitai
Year: 2003

A humorous film which follows the fate of an art dealer seeking an art collection in far-flung Siberia. During his long journey he gets to know about the life and changes in this region after the fall of the Soviet Union. The film stars Jerome Koenig and Hanna Schygulla.


Daniel is an art dealer with bases in New York, Tel Aviv, and Paris. He inherits an art collection in Birobidzhan, the Soviet Jewish republic in the far reaches of Siberia. Daniel embarks on a trip to find the collection – including a gigantic statue of the golem, which he is to assemble by whatever means necessary. As he travels, he glimpses the painful aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
The theme of the Golem courses through Golem: The Petrified Garden in numerous ways. This includes the film’s production history, its internal devices, and combinations thereof. A few brief examples will suffice:
Several props, names, and dialogue lines refer to or evoke the Golem. Most obviously, of course, there is the giant statue that Daniel attempts to assemble. Daniel’s own name alludes to the Biblical prophet who interprets a dream about a gigantic statue that breaks apart, a clear antecedent to the statue in this film. Also, late in the film, a colleague compares Daniel himself to the Golem:
“What did the Russians do to you? You’ve been clay in their hands? Du bist der Golem!”
Further, the film seems to implicitly compare the Soviet Union itself with the Golem. In many versions of the legend, a Rabbi creates the Golem to defend the Jews from persecution. However, the Golem becomes a raging monster. The Jews struggle to stop it, and ultimately reduce it to dust. Similarly, at least according to one version of Soviet history, the lower classes of Czarist Russia created the Soviet Union to defend themselves from exploitation. However, like the golem, the Soviet Union grew out of control and destroyed many of the people it had been designed to protect. Again like the Golem, the Soviet Union had a formless quality. Though rooted in Russia, it grew into an international force. It expanded beyond Russian borders to incorporate or dominate neighbouring countries. The Soviet Union also supported client states elsewhere across the world, and covert agents within capitalist and non-aligned states. All this obscured its boundaries.
The film’s allusion to the Book of Daniel offers special generic resonance. Daniel is an apocalypse – a book depicting the end of history, akin to Revelations in the Christian scriptures. The Soviet collapse can be seen as an apocalyptic event within modern history, ending a historical era. In a piece of apocalyptic historiography presented in 1989, historian and diplomat Francis Fukuyama even grandly suggested:
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-War history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution, and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
Golem: The Petrified Garden does mark this historical moment, and in drawing on the Book of Daniel, suggests the momentous and cataclysmic character of the times. 

About the director

AMOS GITAI Filmography  - full-length feature films: Esther / Esther / Esther, 1986
Berlin-Yerushalaim / Berlín-Jeruzalém / Berlin Jerusalem, 1989
Naissance d´un Golem / Zrození golema / Birth of a Golem, 1991                                                      Golem: L´esprit de l´exil / Golem: Duch vyhranství/ Golem: The Spirit of Exile, 1991
Golem: Le jardin pétrifié / Golem: Zkamenělá zahrada / Golem: The Petrified Garden, 1993
Zihron Devarim / Zihron Devarim / Devarim, 1996
Milim / Slova / Milim, 1996
Yom yom / Den po dni / Day After Day, 1998
Kadosh / Kadosh / Kadosh, 1999
Kippur / Kippur / Kippur, 2000
Eden / Eden / Eden, 2001
Kedma / Kedma / Kedma, 2001
11´09"01: September 11 / 11´09"01 / 11´09"01 (segment), 2002
Alila / Alila / Alila, 2003 Filmography - short and documentary films: Medabrin al ecologia / Hovory o ekologii / Talking About Ecology, 1973
Ahare / Po / After, 1974
Charisma / Charisma / Charisma, 1976
Shikun / Veřejný dům / Public House, 1977
Political Myths / Politické mýty / Political Myths, 1977
Wadi Rushima / Wadi Rushima / Wadi Rushima, 1978
Architectura / Architektura / Architecture, 1978
M´Ora´ot Wadi Salib / M´Ora´ot Wadi Salib / Wadi Salib Riots, 1979
Cultural Celebrities / Kulturní celebrity / Cultural Celebrities, 1979
Bikur Carter be´Israel / Carterova návštěva Izraele / Carter´s Visit to Israel, 1979
In Search of Identity / Hledání identity / In Search of Identity, 1980
Bait / Dům / House, 1980
Wadi / Wadi / Wadi, 1980
American Mythologies / Americké mytologie / American Mythologies, 1981
Yoman sadeh / Venkovský deník / Field Diary, 1982
Reagan: Image for Sale / Reagan: Image na prodej / Reagan: Image for Sale, 1984
Bankok Bahrain / Bangkok Bahrajn / Bankok Bahrain, 1984
Ananas / Ananas / Pineapple, 1984
Brand New Day / Úplně nový den / Brand New Day, 1987
Wadi 1991 / Wadi 1991, 1991
Dans la vallée de la Wupper / V údolí řeky Wupper / In the Valley of the Wupper, 1993
Zirat ha´rezach / Vražedná aréna / The Arena of Murder, 1996
War and Peace in Vesoul / Válka a mír ve Vesoulu / War and Peace in Vesoul, 1997
Tapuz / Pomeranč / Orange, 1998
Bait be Jerushalyim / Dům v Jeruzalémě / A House in Jerusalem, 1998


Agav Films
37 Rashi Street, 63265, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 525 5971

Facets Multi-Media Inc.
1517 West Fullerton Ave., IL 60614, Chicago
United States of America
Tel: +1 773 281 9075
Fax: +1 773 929 5437

About the film

Color, DVD

Section: The Golem Trilogy by Amos Gitai
Director: Amos Gitai
Screenplay: Amos Gitai, Tonino Guerra
Dir. of Photography: Henri Alekan
Music: Simon and Markus Stockhausen
Editor: Anna Ruiz
Producer: Amos Gitai, Laurent Truchot
Production: Agav Films
Cast: Jerome Koenig, Samuel Fuller, Hanna Schygulla
Contact: Agav Films, Facets Multi-Media Inc.


Amos Gitai

Film Director

Ray Privett



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