Friday, January 25, 2008

Carmen (1918 Lubitsch)

Carmen / Carmen. DE 1918. PC: Union. P: Paul Davidson. D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Hanns Kräly based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée (1847). DP: Alfred Hansen. PD: Kurt Richter. Starring: Pola Negri (Carmen), Harry Liedtke (Don José). Enno Patalas reconstruction from Münchner Filmmuseum, 1850 m /18 fps/ 88 min. E-subtitles in Finnish by AA.
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 24 Jan 2008.

This is certainly a stark and original interpretation of the well-known story. The Lubitsch-Pola Negri-Harry Liedtke works together very well. Lubitsch takes advantage of the terrible conditions in which the movie was made, and the sense of squalor among the Romani and the smugglers smells real. Pola Negri is relaxed, true, sensual, passionate, all fire. Hers is not an idealized Carmen. She is a sexual woman, a force of nature, and one can understand that Don José falls for her. Falls for good.

My favourite scenes: Carmen seduces the prison guard, and the scene of the four sulking smugglers. There is humour in this, but this is the first successful serious drama by Lubitsch. The reconstructed Munich print is reportedly the best, and in several scenes one can admire the fine definition of light. Lubitsch is good in crowd scenes: they are always full of life, never empty or decorative.

No comments: