Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Das Weib des Pharao

Faaraon vaimo / Faraos hustru. DE 1921. PC: Ernst Lubitsch-Film / EFA. P: Paul Davidson. D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Norbert Falk, Hanns Kräly. DP: Theodor Sparkuhl, Alfred Hansen. AD: Ernst Stern, Kurt Richter. COST: Ernst Stern, Ali Hubert, Ernö Metzner. Starring: Emil Jannings (Amenes the Pharaon of Egypt), Dagny Servaes (Theonis, a Greek slave girl), Paul Wegener (Samlak, king of Ethiopia), Lyda Salmonova (Makeda, his daughter), Albert Bassermann (Sothis, the king's building master) Harry Liedtke (Ramphis, his son). Originally 2976 m /16 fps/ 162 min. 2005 reconstructed version via 2K digital intermediate from Adoram, /16 fps/ 124 min. E-subtitles AA. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 Feb 2008. A colossal epic lost in its original form, painstakingly reconstructed via all available materials. The German Lubitsch ensemble together once again, working at full speed. Historically and psychologically unconvincing, yet a breathtakingly impressive Egyptian fantasy with top actors, designers, etc. Cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl and Alfred Hansen is brilliant. Scenes with mothers and children on the Pharaoh's steps are as powerful as the Odessa steps in Battleship Potyomkin. Once again history is reduced to a consequence of private passions: humiliation over a girl, jealousy, unrequited love. This is an early (first?) example of the classic Emil Jannings performance: the tyrant at the height of his power perishes utterly. He descends into madness, is stripped of the external emblems of his might, falls into the gutter and dies. A magnificent reconstruction with a loss of visual quality via the digital intermediate.

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