Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Madame Dubarry (Lubitsch 1919)

Madame Dubarry (1919) poster by Theo Matejko.
Madame Dubarry / Madame Dubarry. DE 1919. PC: Union. D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Norbert Falk, Hanns Kräly. DP: Theodor Sparkuhl. PD: Kurt Richter. COST: Ali Hubert. Starring: Pola Negri (Jeanne Vaubernier>Madame Dubarry), Emil Jannings (Louis XIV), Reinhold Schünzel (Duke von Choiseul, Minister), Harry Liedtke (Armand de Foix). 2280 m /18 fps/ 110 min.

Restored version from tinted and toned, French/German titled material, print from Transit Film / FWMS, /18 fps/ 127 min. It is longer than the original because of the double titles. E-subtitles by AA.

Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 Jan 2008.

Observations on revisiting a familiar film in a version I had not seen before: 1) it is great to see this in authentic colours, 2) the titles take slightly too much time in this bilingual version, 3) there are small things missing (nothing important), 4) this is a frivolous version of the French Revolution, 5) the crowd scenes are powerful, and there is true frenzy in the revolutionary crowd, 6) the film is visually first-rate, 7) the theme of the formal marriage and the irrepressible libido is central to Lubitsch, and there is a link to Renoir (Nana, Toni, La Règle du jeu, etc.), 8) it is nice to see the familiar trio Negri-Liedtke-Jannings playing variations of some eternal patterns in Egypt... in Carmen... and here, 9) the atmosphere is lively, 10) although the film trivializes the chain of events leading to the Revolution, it conveys its seriousness and some of the background. This is tragedy.

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