Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Takový je život / So ist das Leben / Such is Life (2016 digital restoration Národní filmový archiv etc.)

Valeska Gert and Theodor Pištěk in Takový je život / So ist das Leben / Such is Life. Please click to enlarge the image.

Sellaista on elämä [Finnish tv YLE TV1 1971] / Telle est la vie / [Così è la vita]. CZ/DE. Year of production: 1929. Year of premiere: 1930. D+SC: Carl Junghans. Cinematography: László Schäffer. AD: Ernst Meiwers. C: Vera Baranovskaja (la lavandaia), Theodor Pištěk (il marito), Máňa Ženíšková (la figlia), Wolfgang Zilzer (il corteggiatore), Jindřich Plachta (il sarto), Manja Kellerová (la moglie del sarto), Eman Fiala (il pianista), Valeska Gert (la cameriera), Uli Tridenskaja (amica della lavandaia), Betty Kysilková (cassiera). P: Star-Film, Carl Junghans-Filmproduktion. DCP. B&w. 63 min
    Restored in 2016 from a 35 mm safety print and a 35 mm safety internegative at the Hungarian Filmlab under the supervision of the Národní filmový archiv. Digital restoration of this film was kindly supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and co-financed by the ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
    DCP from: Národní filmový archiv
    ♪ Grand piano Maud Nelissen – alla batteria: Frank Bockius
    Introduce Gian Luca Farinelli, Volker Schlöndorff & Jeanne Pommeau
    Ritrovati e restaurati
    Czech intertitles with English subtitles
    Cinema Lumiere – Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, 29 June 2016

Jeanne Pommeau (Bologna catalog): "Carl Junghans’s film captures the tragic story of an aging laundress, whose drudgery and toil support a licentious and abusive alcoholic husband. Following the wave of social realism in European cinema, the film tries to be true to life, refusing embellishment or sentimentalism. In this way, it distinguished itself from the other films produced during this period in Prague. German social cinema and the cinematic expression of Soviet cinema (some shots are only two frames long) influenced Carl Junghans and are not only present in the style of the film itself, but also in the casting which included personalities who had already played in decisive films that influenced its genesis. The choice of Vera Baranovskaja as the main character is a reference to the sacrifice and the moral integrity of Pudovkin’s Mother. The performance of Valeska Gert, who plays a waitress liberated from the usual confinement of female repertoire, is essential not only for the characterization of the waitress, but also to associate the film with avant-garde ideas and aesthetics and to set it apart from mainstream productions."

"A few weeks after its initial release in Berlin’s Ufa-Theater, some shots, considered too obviously sexually explicit and indecent, were censored in Czechoslovakia: a customer touching the manicurist’s knee, the lovers’ scene, a man carrying his bedpan, a doctor proposing a price for an abortion, a drunken husband heading to the toilet."

"So far, no original print of the silent version has been found in the world. A 1950’s print – made from a print dating most likely from the first release in Germany in 1930 that included all the censored sequences – was the best source available for the digitization. The Czech intertitles, produced in the 1950s probably for a sound version, are more concise than in the original Czech version that did not survive. All the other existing film materials have been made from this print. We were determined to preserve its integrity throughout the digitization process." – Jeanne Pommeau

AA: Revisited after 45 years a classic of Czech and German Neue Sachlichkeit, a refined and moving film about poverty and the working class, with affinities with Die freudlose Gasse, Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück, Jenseits der Strasse, Phil Jutzi, Gerhard Lamprecht, Werner Hochbaum, Slatan Dudow, et al. The associative and lyrical montages also bring to mind contemporary French masterpieces such as Rien que les heures and Ménilmontant.

The film is divided into chapters with headlines such as: 1. The Daily Wages, 2. The Day of Rest, 3. Blue Monday, 4. The Day of Feast, 5. The Day of Woe, 6. The Day of Destiny, and 7. The Day of Grief. The headlines are accompanied with proverbs such as "sloth is the mother of sin" and "misfortune seldom comes alone". The proverb concept was adopted by R. W. Fassbinder in his tv series Berlin Alexanderplatz, set in the same period.

Such Is Life is a naturalistic, at times even animalistic, film based on crisp and sober observation. The cinematography by László Schäffer is first-rate. The editing by the director Carl Junghans himself is sharp and intelligent. Beyond naturalism, the film also displays a robust Formwille, complete with homages to Eisenstein (a statue montage). It also has a strong cast, including Vera Baranovskaya, famous from Pudovkin's Mother. Moreover, Such Is Life belongs to the films where there are no bit parts: all characters are colourful and meaningful.

The incredible Valeska Gert (1892-1978) was introduced in the screening by Volker Schlöndorff who made a fine portrait documentary on her: Nur zum Spass, nur zum Spiel (1977), covering her career from Pabst (Die freudlose Gasse, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, Die 3-Groschen-Oper) and Renoir (Nana) to Fellini (Giuliette degli spiriti) and Schlöndorff himself (Der Fangschuss). And that was just the film part of her career.

The husband (the great Theodor Pištěk, also a production manager for the film) is the sloth who gets fired when he is late from work. The daughter, too, is fired from her job as a manicurist when she resists advances from a "gentleman" customer. Valeska Gert is the saloon girl with a thick skin to whom the husband escapes, spending the family's household money on her. In Pudovkin's Mother Baranovskaya played the victim of oppression who rises against her condition. Such Is Life is a melancholy film which ends in her submission, injury, and death.

The last chapters are lyrical, elegiac, and tragic. Only the wind blows over her, and she is gone. The close-ups of the members of the funeral service are expressive. Their faces and eyes are soulful. It is an unforgettable portrait gallery. Such is life. There is no "The End" title.

In this purely visual movie the pictorial quality of the DCP is often very good. A fine job of restoration of an important film.


Regie:    Carl Junghans
Drehbuch:    Carl Junghans
Kamera:    László Schäffer
Bauten:    Ernst Meiwers
Schnitt:    Carl Junghans
Vera Baranowskaja    Die Frau
Theodor Pištěk    Der Mann
Máňa Ženíšková    Die Tochter
Wolfgang Zilzer    Freund der Tochter
Jindřich Plachta    Schneider
Manja Kellerová    Frau des Schneiders
Edith Lederová    Tochter des Schneiders
Valeska Gert    Kellnerin
Eman Fiala    Pianist
Uli Tridenskaja    Freundin
Betty Kysílková   
František Juhan   
Produktionsfirma:    Star-Film (Prag), Carl Junghans-Filmproduktion (Berlin)
Produzent:    Carl Junghans
Produktionsleitung:    Václav Bukač, Theodor Pištěk
Dreharbeiten:    04.1929-: Prag und Umgebung; Kavalírka-Atelier Prag
Erstverleih:    Mondial-Film GmbH (Berlin)
Länge:    6 Akte, 2063 m
Format:    35 mm, 1:1,37
Bild/Ton:    s/w, ohne Ton
Prüfung/Zensur:    Zensur (DE): 21.03.1930, B.25444, Jugendverbot
Aufführung:    Uraufführung (DE): 24.03.1930, Berlin, U.T. Kurfürstendamm;
Erstaufführung (CS): 09.05.1930, Prag, Roxy, Kornua, Flora

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