Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss, the pair of actors in the classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, play the lead roles in Henrik Galeen's elaborate new version of Hanns Heinz Ewers’s successful film THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (1913). Different from the original film, the remake was shot not on original locations but on elaborate sets by film architect Hermann Warm. Cameraman Günther Krampf's atmospheric images were influenced by motifs from German Romanticism. This colorized reconstruction by the Munich Film Museum is adorned with hand-painted expressive German intertitles.
The story as told by Mr. Hans Heinz Ewers is, however, of mixed origins. Based in part upon the folkversion of the Faust legend, it also leans upon a certain not so well known story by Edgar Allan Poe called “Mr. William Wilson”. THE MAN WHO CHEATED LIFE has the advantage of expert casting and the authentic background of the historic city of Prague. Werner Krauss plays the minor but extremely important part of the Devil. Oddly accoutered almost to the point of appearing comical in his approximation of mountebank he flashes occasional shafts of malignancy which clearly reveal his kinship with the prince if darkness. This remarkable actor in whatever picture he appears always manages to fit as organically into a story as a tree into a forest. Conrad Veidt in the stellar part of Baldwin, the student, faces and overcomes the handicap of playing a dual role in frequent double exposures at a time when this is not so novel as it was eight years ago. To our mind it is the best performance in any picture of his shown in America. Certainly the final sequence of his vain flight from his ever pursuing image and the life and death climax before the shattered mirror is one of the finest achievements of screen pantomime and camera magic.
National Board of Review Magazine, Februar 1929