Monday, 24 November 2008

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens 1922

Nosferatu (1922)

Director: F.W. Murnau

Actors: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz, Albert Venohr, Eric Van Viele, Karl Etlinger, Guido Herzfeld, Fanny Schreck, Hardy von Francois, Heinrich Witte and Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Writers: Henrik Galeen, Bram Stoker (not credited)

Release date: 4th March 1922 (Germany)

A truly wondrous film of German expressionist cinema, Nosferatu still haunts and scares modern film goers with the unwavering power of its imagery. Using a horde of occult atmospherics out of decaying set pieces and harmless real-world locations, the film director, the incomparable F.W. Murnau, captures on film a waking nightmare, which would alter film history forever.

Without doubt, one of the most famous silent films ever made. Nosferatu was the first German silent film I ever watched and still to this day I find awe-inspiring and is my favourite German Silent Film. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens or Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror in English, is set in 1837. Based on Bram Stokers Dracula, the story centres on Hutter and his wife Ellen. The story begins when Hutter is sent by his employer, Knock, to a mysterious castle. He is sent to finalise a deal with Count Orlok, who wishes to buy a house in Hutter’s village. Hutter travels across continents and meets with Count Orlok in a distant land to sign a real estate contract. This will eventually lead the Count back to Hutter town where he reveals his true intentions towards Ellen, Hutter’s wife. Here begins Hutter’s troubles...

Watch Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens 1922 below...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Deerslayer and Chingachgook 1920

The Deerslayer and Chingachgook (1920)

Director: Arthur Wellin

Actors: Emil Mamelok, Herta Heden, Bela Lugosi, Gottfried Kraus, Edward Eyseneck and Margot Sokolowska

Writers: James Fenimore Cooper (novel) and Robert Heymann

Release date: 14 September 1920 (Germany)

Deerslayer, a woodsman and his friend, Chingachgook, try valiantly at keeping peace between the native Indian tribes and settlers. The woodsman and his friends get caught up in the fighting between guns and arrows. Chingachgook's love is taken hostage by a brave, so he and Deerslayer embark on a dangerous rescue to bring his love back to the tribe.

Very early Bela Lugosi movie. He later went on to become Dracula in 1931.

Way too many intertitles in this film. Although the length is just under 1 hour, a good half of that are intertitles. This really does take you out of the film.

The film buff will probably be only interested in this to see Bela Lugosi.

Highlights are the action sequences between the Indians and the settlers.

Out of the many German silent films I have seen, sadly this is one of the poorest. In fact, I've only seen it the one time and found it boring. I would rate this film 3 out of 10.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Eyes of the Mummy 1918

The Eyes of the Mummy (1918)

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Actors: Emil Jannings, Pola Negri, Max Laurence, Harry Liedkte and Margarete Kupfer

Writers: Hanns Kraly and Emil Rameau

Release date: 3rd October 1918 (Germany)

An artist who has gone to Egypt discovers that a prince intends to discover the tomb of Queen Ma. Albert Wendland, the painter, is fascinated when he discovers a legend that any person who enters the crypt of Queen Ma, tragedy would ensue. Soon, Albert's intrigue takes hold and searches for the tomb of Queen Ma. Venturing into the tomb, he instead finds a beautiful woman. Her name is Mara, and she is held prisoner by Radu. Soon after, Albert rescues Mara. He falls in love and takes her back to his European home and is married. Radu her captor seeks revenge on Mara. From this, the curse of the mummy is with her forever.

The movie stars celebrated German silent actor Emil Jannings, who went on to the groundbreaking The Last Laugh. He also became the highest paid actor in Germany throughout the 1920's.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Student of Prague 1913

The Student of Prague (1913)

Directors: Paul Wegener and Stellan Rye

Actors: Paul Wegener, John Gottowt, Grete Berger, Lyda Salmonova, Lothar Korner and Fritz Weidermann

Writers: Alfred de Musset, Edgar Allan Poe and Hanz Heinz Ewers

Release date: 22nd August 1913 (Germany)

Balduin (played by Paul Wegener) is a poor student from Prague in the 1800's. By accident, he rescues a beautiful Countess, Margit Schwarzenberg (played by Grete Berger) and becomes obsessed with her. Scapinelli (played by John Gottowt), the sorcerer, makes a bargain with Balduin for 100,000 gold pieces. In return for the wager, Scapinelli can take anything he wishes from Balduin’s room. The room being mostly bare, Balduin agrees and signs the contract. Scapinelli approaches a mirror in the room and to Balduin’s amazement, extracts Balduin’s reflection. Scapinelli then leaves with the reflection. Happy with his wealth, the student Balduin is now unaware of his fate which is now doomed.

Paul Wegeners directorial debut.

German Silent Films

After World War 1, the German silent film industry flourished, which was aided by rampant inflation throughout the 1920’s.

After the horrors of the war, the German silent film industry tended to be aimed at horror and crime films. This culminated in the German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, which was made in 1919. This film is credited as the beginning of expressionism within German film. There was no location shooting, but relied on sets that were painted to represent the mental state of a madman.

Other landmark films from this period in German silent film are Nosferatu 1922 and The Golem 1920.

Films from this period concentrated on imagery and symbolism to tell the narrative. The expressionist movement within German silent cinema ended during the mid 1920’s.