Sunday, October 04, 2009

Der Hund von Baskerville

Baskervillen koira
DE 1914. PC: Vitascope. D: Rudolf Meinert; SC: Richard Oswald, from the play by Julius Philip and Richard Oswald (1909), based on the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902); DP: Karl Freund; AD: Hermann Warm; CAST: Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), Friedrich Kühne (Stapleton), Hanni Weisse (Miss Laura Lyons), Erwin Fichtner (Henry von Baskerville), Andreas von Horn (Barrymore); released: 12.6.1914; (tinted); from: restored version (c) 2005 Filmmuseum München. Deutsche Zwischentitel. orig. l: 4386 ft; Beta SP,* 66'
E-subtitles in English and Italian. Grand piano: John Sweeney. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 4 Oct 2009. - No 35mm print of this film is currently available for screening.

From the GCM Catalogue: "Considering Sherlock Holmes’ enormous popularity in Germany, and The Hound of the Baskervilles in particular, it’s not surprising that the novel’s first screen adaptation should come from Berlin. In 1907 Ferdinand Bonn premiered his stage production Der Hund von Baskerville: Schauspiel in vier Aufzügen aus dem Schottischen Hochland, (immediately translated into Russian and presented in Moscow the same year), while in the same period Julius Philipp and Richard Oswald presented their competing version, both later plundered for this cinematic outing. As the subtitle of the Bonn play implies, the action was moved from Dartmoor to Scotland, a change which Oswald and Rudolf Meinert retain in the film – indeed, the peasants of “Schloss Baskerville” appear, from the waist down, to have stepped out of Annie Laurie, but from the waist up it’s more Old Heidelberg.
Largely unseen for decades until the Filmmuseum München’s 2006 restoration, there was much speculation on plot and characters (interestingly, Bonn’s play was described as an adaptation of both Poe and Conan Doyle). The film’s narrative is necessarily streamlined, and there’s nothing of the book’s chilling atmosphere upon the moors, but the addition of a secret pipeline, a futuristic communication device, and a watchful bust of Napoleon seem heavily indebted to Feuillade and serials, furthering the neo-Gothic element already noticeable in the novel. The dog, played by a noble Harlequin Great Dane, is far from the original’s hound-of-hell (“luminous, ghastly and spectral”), appearing more likely to offer affectionate, slobbering licks than savage throat-tears. Other than the peasants’ kilts there’s also little here to signal a UK setting, while the incongruously bright manse is merely given a British baronial gloss with the addition of a few suits of armour.
1914 was Rudolf Meinert’s first year as a director, and his interest in effects of light is already noticeable, both through strong interior shadows and a striking silhouetted landscape – undoubtedly cameraman Karl Freund was also involved in such set-ups. True to Conan Doyle’s spirit, if not the actual novel, Meinert relishes the opportunities afforded by multiple disguises, and while Friedrich Kühne rather overdoes his Stapleton (it comes as a relief when his ridiculously long side-whiskers are finally clipped), the other performers ae better handled. Alwin Neuss, who essayed the role in one of the earlier Philipp/Oswald stagings, is almost comically calm until he dons his disguise. Contrary to conjecture, Watson does make an appearance, though his role is brief and could easily be dispensed with.
Der Hund von Baskerville was wildly successful: nearly 50,000 tickets were sold within the opening fortnight. Taking advantage of the characters’ popularity, Vitascope rushed a sequel into production, releasing Das einsame Haus later in 1914 with the same cast and crew; by 1920 five further sequels were produced, and Oswald himself directed a 1929 version of Der Hund, much more faithful to the novel and starring Carlyle Blackwell as Holmes. – Jay Weissberg"

In 2005 a print was discovered by Armin Loacher at Gosfilmofond with French flash-titles only and with the order of the shots totally mixed up, probably separated for different colours. The film was reconstructed by Filmmuseum München on Digital Betacam. Based on a restoration of Sein eigner Mörder also produced by Vitascope GmbH we could bring information regarding the typeface, graphics, and wordings of the intertitles, tinting, and editing style. The print is complete. This is Richard Oswald's very first work for the cinema. In the opening credits he introduces himself confidently to us. - From Stefan Drössler's introduction.

I look forward to see this on film. - The colour is fine. - There is a joy of storytelling there that resembles Louis Feuillade's better serials. - Surprising details like the "sms" service of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. - The villain Stapleton disguises himself as Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes disguises himself as Stapleton. This funny idea had recently been brilliantly used by Feuillade in Fantômas, but in Der Hund von Baskerville it is also executed with a perfect timing for suspense and comedy. The scene where the two meet in each other's disguises had me laugh out loud. - Strong cinematography by Karl Freund also in the scene where Sherlock Holmes is trapped in the underground cave with the hound.

1 comment:

Term papers said...

I Like That Film too. The scene where the two meet each other in each others disguises had me laugh out loud.