Sunday, October 11, 2009

Die Gezeichneten / Love One Another / [The Stigmatized]

[The film was not released in Finland] / Elsker hverandre) [Gli stigmatizzati]. DE 1922. PC: Primus-Film GmbH, Berlin. P: Otto Schmidt; D: Carl Th. Dreyer; SC: Carl Th. Dreyer, based on the novel Elsker hverandre by Aage Madelung (1912); DP: Friedrich Weinmann; AD: Jens G. Lind; COST: Leopold Verch, Willi Ernst, Karl Töpfer; CAST: Adele Reuter-Eichberg (Frau Segal), Wladimir Gaidorow (Jacow Segal), Polina Piekowska (Hanne-Liebe), Sylvia Torff (Zipe), Hugo Döblin (Abraham), Thorleiff Reiss (Sascha), Johannes Meyer (Rylowitsch), Richard Boleslawski (Fedja), J. Duwan-Torzoff (Suchowersky); orig: 2833 m; 2173 m, 95 min (20 fps); from: DFI. Restoration by Casper Tybjerg and Thomas Christensen, at Digital Filmlab, Copenhagen, for the Danish Film Institute (c) 2007. DFI / Cinémathèque de Toulouse. Danish + English intertitles. E-subtitles in Italian, grand piano: Neil Brand. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 10 Oct 2009.

Casper Tybjerg (from the GCM Catalogue): "The film takes place in Russia before and during the 1905 revolution. A prologue, now consisting largely of title cards (we do not know whether there were images to go along with them) presents the Russians as a sluggish people, but terrible once aroused; and among them, resentment festers against their Jewish neighbors. Even as a young girl, Hanne-Liebe experiences prejudice. Later, as a young woman, she is attracted to Alexander/Sascha, a student with revolutionary sympathies. The ne’er-do-well Fedja spreads false rumors, and Hanne-Liebe is expelled from school. She runs away to Moscow, where her estranged brother Jakow is a successful lawyer, having converted to Christianity. She meets Sascha again, but he is egged on by the police spy Rylowitsch to perform an act of revolutionary terrorism. All the revolutionaries are arrested, and Hanne-Liebe is forced to return to her hometown. The authorities decide to distract popular anger against the czarist government by fomenting pogroms against the Jews, and Rylowitsch, disguised as a monk, is dispatched to spread the venom of anti-Semitism. He finds an eager audience in Fedja. Jakow decides to return home when his mother falls ill. The 1905 revolution breaks out, and Sascha is pardoned. The new liberal constitution is greeted with popular joy, but Rylowitsch’s insidious influence makes itself felt, and soon the Russians turn into a murderous mob: the Jews are butchered, and their homes smashed and burned. Most of Hanne-Liebe’s family is murdered. She is saved by Sascha and departs for an uncertain future.
    Dreyer based his film on a Danish novel from 1912 by Aage Madelung, a then-popular realist writer. The film’s two very different titles both come from the novel, which was called Elsker hverandre (“Love One Another”) in Denmark, but translated into German as Die Gezeichneten (“The Stigmatized Ones”). In making the film, Dreyer strove for maximum authenticity. With his production designer Jens Lind, he traveled to Lublin in Poland, which had a very large Jewish community; the exterior sets for the film, built in Berlin, were based on the architecture they saw there. As extras, Dreyer hired Jewish refugees from Russia (there were many in Berlin at the time, some with first-hand experience of pogroms). Part of Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theatre troupe had ended up in Berlin after the Bolshevik seizure of power and the Russian civil war, and Dreyer was able to use several of these actors, whose naturalist style he greatly admired. Dreyer was a lifelong foe of anti-Semitism, but only dealt explicitly with it in this impressive and powerful film. Few, if any, films of the period portray the destructive potential of racial intolerance as clearly as this one, and the extraordinary violence of the pogrom at the end still retains its power to shock.
    The film was considered lost until 1960, when an original nitrate print bearing the Russian distribution title “Pogrom” was found in the archives of Gosfilmofond by the historian Vladimir Matusevitch. A dupe was made from this and presented to the Danish Film Museum, which replaced the Russian intertitles with Danish translations. This print was then circulated until the early 1980s, when a new dupe was made from it. In 2005, thanks to the help of Bernard Eisenschitz, the original nitrate was relocated at Bois d’Arcy, where it had been deposited by the Cinémathèque de Toulouse, which had received it from Gosfilmofond. The present print has been made from a 2K scan of this original nitrate print. Using Dreyer’s screenplay and an intertitle list from the Swedish censorship archive (no German censorship records appear to exist), the Danish intertitles from the film’s world premiere in Copenhagen (two weeks ahead of the Berlin premiere) have been reconstructed, adding some 40 titles to those found in the Russian print and clarifying the complex narrative considerably. In one dialogue sequence, two shots were apparently mixed up when the Russian titles were cut in; they have been put in the correct order. One other one-shot scene has been moved to the place where the corresponding intertitles indicates it should be. – Casper Tybjerg."

AA: Revisited: Dreyer's powerful account of anti-semitism. - I have seen this film a few times before, and in this reconstructed and restored version it made really sense for the first time. The added intertitles and the re-editing of the footage make the narrative consistent. The print has been made from good source material. There are variations in the pictorial quality, but very often it looks really good. - In this reconstruction one can finally state that the storyline is pretty thick in the film itself (and not only in imperfect versions of it). - The pogrom sequence is devastating. - Watching the film on the adjoining seat was Yossi Halachmi, who commented that this film was the story of his father and mother, and there were details there that were familiar to him from his family tradition: for instance a personal fight between a Jew and a Goy provoking a pogrom.

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