Tuesday, October 06, 2009

[Asta Nielsen als Mannequin], Steuermann Holk (fragments)

Presentano: Heide Schlüpmann, Karola Gramann. Grand piano: Tama Karema. Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 5 Oct 2009. - From the GCM Catalogue: "Of the more than 70 films in which Nielsen starred, only about half have been preserved, often in fragmentary form. In recent years there have been several efforts to improve this state of affairs. For example, in 2005 Thomas Christensen of the Danish Film Institute initiated a worldwide FIAF search for material. This effort unfortunately turned out not to be very successful, as it proved that scarcely any negatives are available and that the existing positive copies are often of poor quality. Also in 2005, the Kinothek Asta Nielsen – which was founded in Frankfurt-on-Main in 2000 – started to work on a project with the aim of realizing a retrospective of its namesake that would be as complete as possible. Their initiative provided the impulse for restoration work by various German and international archives. In addition, there came the unexpected discovery of a tinted and toned nitrate print of Nielsen’s Hamlet by the Deutsches Filminstitut (DIF) / Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt-on-Main. Finally, in 2007 the Kinothek Asta Nielsen held a retrospective in conjunction with an international symposium in Frankfurt-on-Main. A 2-volume edition on Asta Nielsen was published by Filmarchiv Austria in Summer 2009.
The feature film Die Geliebte Roswolskys, the unidentified document Asta Nielsen als Mannequin, and the fragment of Steuermann Holk being screened at the Giornate have only recently been restored, and this marks their first public showing in an international context. These lucky finds show how every rediscovery brings to light yet another facet of Asta Nielsen’s outstanding contribution to silent cinema. – Heide Schlüpmann, Karola Gramann".

[Asta Nielsen als Mannequin]
DE ca 1915. 137 m /16 fps/ ca 8 min; from: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. No intertitles.
From the GCM Catalogue: "There is no indication of when this short film was made. To judge by the clothes Nielsen is wearing, however, it must have been in the 1910s.
Asta Nielsen had great control over all the creative aspects of her films, especially in the 1910s, and paid special attention to the wardrobe of her characters. She chose the fabrics and cuts to correspond to the respective milieu of the protagonists, and also with the eye of the camera in mind. At the time, clothes which neither impeded nor disguised the body, but instead enabled it to move freely, were only produced by avant-garde fashion designers, such as Paul Poiret or Coco Chanel.
In this film, Nielsen plays the role of a mannequin, using her body as a clotheshorse. She makes a striking entrance on a flight of stairs (stairs often appear in Nielsen films), which serve as a stage on which to present sumptuous gowns and precious accessories. An outdoor shot shows Nielsen wearing an extravagant hat, posing in front of a Wilhelminian building in Berlin. – Heide Schlüpmann, Karola Gramann". - A beautiful fragment. Simple and elegant clothes, I agree with Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann that there is a Coco Chanel connection.

Steuermann Holk (fragment)
Perämies Holk. DE 1920. PC: Maxim-Film-Ges. Ebner and Co., Berlin. D: Ludwig Wolff; SC: Thomas Hall, based on the novel by Kurt Küchler; DP: Julius Balting; AD: Rochus Gliese; CAST: Asta Nielsen (Isabella Bouflon), Paul Wegener (Helmsman Holk); orig. l: 1822 m; 41 m /18 fps/ 4 min; print: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From the GCM Catalogue: "Sadly, this brief fragment is all that is known to survive of the marine melodrama Steuermann Holk, which may well have had sea scenes as breathtakingly poetic as those in Das Haus am Meer (1924). Unlike that later film, however, here Nielsen obviously has a more interesting role than that of a devoted fisherman’s wife. Her leading man, Paul Wegener, was an esteemed colleague and friend, with whom she was in contact until his death.
This short fragment is impressive in that it shows the protagonist (Nielsen) taking a boxing lesson – what is more, with a black champion (the name of the actor is not known). Wegener steps between them, his pistol drawn. Struggle and love, aggression and desire – the source of tension in all Nielsen films – are condensed here in one scene.
A nitrate element of the fragment arrived at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in 2002 from Kinemathek Hamburg, and was copied by ABC and TaunusFilm Kopierwerk, Wiesbaden, in 2005. – Heide Schlüpmann, Karola Gramann." - Wegener catches Nielsen in the act of boxing with a black athlete and makes a violent scene.

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