ALGOL: TRAGEDY OF POWER

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ALGOL: TRAGEDY OF POWER (original release title, Tragödie der Macht). Hans Werckmeister, director. Hans Brenner and Friedel Köhne, script.[1] Germany (Weimar Republic): Deutsche Lichtbild-Gesellschaft e.V. (production and distribution), 1920.[2] 81 minutes. Silent b/w, German intertitles.

IMDb logline: "An alien from the planet Algol gives a man a device that gives him superpowers." Film Architecture gives the premise — and has the still shots to back it up — that Robert Herne, a coal miner

is entrusted by a Mephistophelian goblin with a small machine that runs without electricity and is powered by rays from the distant planet Algol. Herne lets himself be tempted by the prospect of becoming rich and powerful with this machine. Twenty years later, power lines from Herne's empire cover the whole world. Yet, his wealth has not made him happy. (p. 62)

The goblin may be a unique twist, but cf. and contrast Čapek's 1922 The Absolute at Large and more recent instances and parallels, such as the "nanoforges" in Joe Haldeman's 1997 novel, Forever Peace, and "the Pump" in Isaac Asimov's 1972 novel, The God's Themselves — quoting the Wikipedia entry:

Radiochemist Frederick Hallam discovers that a container's contents have been altered. He finds out that the sample, originally tungsten, has been transformed into plutonium 186 — an isotope that cannot occur naturally in our universe. As this is investigated, Hallam gets the credit for suggesting that the matter has been exchanged by beings in a parallel universe; this leads to the development of a cheap, clean, and apparently endless source of energy: the "Pump", which transfers matter between our universe (where plutonium 186 decays into tungsten 186) and a parallel one governed by different physical laws (where tungsten 186 turns into plutonium 186), yielding a nuclear reaction in the process. The development process grants Hallam high position in public opinion; winning him power, position, and a Nobel Prize.[3]


RDE, finishing, 26May23