The Student of Prague (1913 film)

For other uses, see The Student of Prague.
The Student of Prague
Directed by Stellan Rye
Paul Wegener
Written by Hanns Heinz Ewers
Starring Paul Wegener
John Gottowt
Grete Berger
Music by Josef Weiss
Cinematography Guido Seeber
Release dates
  • 22 August 1913 (1913-08-22)
Running time
85 min.
Country German Empire
Language Silent film
German intertitles
The Student of Prague

The Student of Prague (German: Der Student von Prag, also known as A Bargain with Satan) is a 1913 German silent horror film. It is loosely based on "William Wilson", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, a poem by Alfred de Musset, and Faust. The film was remade in 1926, under the same title The Student of Prague. Other remakes were produced in 1935 and 2004. It is generally deemed to be the first independent film in history.[1]


The film takes place in Prague in 1820, where a poor young man named Balduin is the city's wildest student and greatest swordsman. However, his deteriorating finances and unrequited love toward a rich countess named Margit have left him depressed and withdrawn. While he broods over his predicament outside a beer hall, a strange old man named Scapinelli approaches him and tells him he may have a solution to his problems: he will make a deal with the young man to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if Balduin will sign his name to a contract (i.e. make a deal with the Devil). The student hurriedly signs the contract, but doesn't know what he's in for.


A long plot summary is given by psychologist Otto Rank in The Double (1971; originally "Der Doppelgänger" in Imago III.2, 1914, 97-164).

The film is referenced in the detective story "The Image in the Mirror" by Dorothy Sayers, in which Lord Peter Wimsey helps clear Mr. Duckworthy, a man wrongly suspected of murder. Among other things Duckworthy tells:

"When I was seven or eight, my mother took me with her to see a film called "The Student of Prague".(...) It was a costume piece about a young man at the university who sold himself to the devil, and one day his reflection came stalking out of the mirror on its own, and went about committing dreadful crimes, so that everybody thought it was him."

(In the story, Mr. Duckworthy had what seemed a similar experience - but Wimsey eventually proves that it had a rational explanation involving no supernatural agency).


  1. The Student of Prague at (German)

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