Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Marizza, genannt die Schmuggler-Madonna (fragment)

Salakuljettajamadonna / ([IT:] Maritza), (Helios Film, DE 1921-22) D: F.W. Murnau; P: Erwin Rosner; AD: Hans Janowitz, from the unpublished story “Grüne Augen” by Wolfgang Geiger; DP: Karl Freund; AD: Heinrich Richter; cast: Tzwetta Tzatschewa (Marizza), Adele Sandrock, Harry Frank, H.H. von Twardowski, Leonhard Haskel, Greta Schröder, Maria Forescu, Albrecht Victor Blum, Max Nemetz, Toni Zimmerer; filmed: 10.1920-1921, Jofa-Atelier, Johannisthal, Berlin; première: 20.1.1922 ( Johann Georg Lichtspiele am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin); orig. l: 1735 m.; fragment, 35mm, 275.81 m. (14,342 frames), 13'17" (18 fps); source: Cineteca Nazionale – Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Roma. Italian intertitles.
Presenta Mario Musumeci.
Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) with e-subtitles in English and Donald Sosin on the grand piano, 6 Oct 2010

Irela Núñez in the GCM Catalogue: "This extract, originating in an Italian private collection, is so far all that is known to survive from the film that Murnau made between der Gang in die Nacht (1920) and Schloß Vogelöd (1921). Critics of the time praised the writer Janowitz for making comprehensible Wolfgang Geiger’s extremely complicated plot, with its echoes of Carmen. The beautiful Marizza (played by the Bulgarian-born Tzwetta Tzatschewa) works in the potato fields of old Yelina, who uses her to charm the gendarme Haslinger, and thereby distract his attention from the local smugglers. To escape this life Marizza goes to work for Madame Avricolos (Adele Sandrock), but problems ensue when both of Madame’s sons, Antonino and Christo, fall in love with her. She flees with Antonino, but in time the couple, with her baby by Christo, are reduced to begging. Marizza falls again into the hands of the smugglers. The dramatic dénouement includes murder, a near-fatal fire, and a last-minute rescue by Marizza’s true love, Christo. Karl Freund’s camerawork received much praise in contemporary reviews, and Lotte eisner later recognized, from still photographs, “a great care for chiaroscuro and depth of focus”.
The Italian version – 1572 metres long – entitled Maritza was approved by the censors on 2 April 1923, changes being made to some character names (Christo to Leone, Scarzella to Mirtli, Antonino to Niko), perhaps to avoid religious or ethnic connotations. distributed by local companies, it had scarce circulation. In the 1970s José Pantieri found a reel of the Italian version of Marizza and acquired it for the Museo Internazionale del Cinema e dello Spettacolo (MICS), making a black-and-white screening print. In 2008 all materials were deposited in the Cineteca Nazionale – Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.
In this fragment, corresponding to the first reel of the film, Murnau portrays characters whose original ethnic richness recalls the border zone where the story is set. He registers their behaviour, echoing their nature in their animals, relating them (or putting them against each other) in the compositions or via editing effects that make the story progress very swiftly. So, we learn about the wild nature of Marizza, who stands in sharp contrast with the local families, entangled by relationships of money and power. As in der Gang in die Nacht or Phantom, the grotesque is highlighted, while restrained by the excessive formality of the upper classes. But some unexpected attitudes in these moments reveal major conflicts in history. other elements remind us especially of Nosferatu: the expressive use of landscape, the mysterious connections created by editing, the importance of money as the basic motivation of men, and a somewhat vampiric predisposition in nature, embodied here by Marizza. The film’s warm palette echoes the will for nature and spring desire. And maybe because of the loss of the other reels, we feel it creates an “edge of the world” utopic quality. – Irela Núñez."

An exciting discovery and a fine job of restoration of a fragment of the lost Murnau film. There is heavy tinting in the source material, and the digital intermediate look of this restoration is evident at times. The strong composition in this fragment has the Murnau touch. The acting is sober yet intense. Tzwetta Tzatschewa carries the title role proudly in this Carmen story by Murnau. A memorable discovery.

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