Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dida Ibsens Geschichte

Dida Ibsens Geschichte. Ein Finale zum "Tagebuch einer Verlorenen" von Margarete Böhme. DE 1918. D: Richard Oswald. Based on the novel Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1907) di Margarete Böhme; SC: Richard Oswald; DP: Max Faßbender; PD: August Rinaldi; Cast: [Anita Berber (Dida Ibsen)], [not in this episode: Erna Morena (Thymian Gotteball)], Conrad Veidt (Dr. Julius / [Erik Norrensen]), Werner Krauß (Meinert / [Philipp Galen]), [Emil Lind (Vater Ibsen], [not in this episode: Reinhold Schünzel (Casimir Osdorf)], [not in this episode: Paul Rehkopf (il farmacista Gotteball)], Clementine Plessner [Frau Ibsen] (zia Frieda), [not in this episode: Marga Köhler (la matrigna), Max Laurence, Marie von Bülow ( Woyens)]; P: Richard Oswald-Film GmbH (Berlin); Pri. pro.: 29 ottobre 1918. 35 mm. L.: 1253 m. 58’ a 20 fps. B&w; Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Stiftung Deutsche Kinematek [2004] per concessione di Kirchmedia. Sunday, 26 June 2011 at 16.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Grand piano: Günter Buchwald.

Catalogue: "Prostitution, venereal diseases, homosexuality and drugs are subjects which are generally taboo for silent cinema. The problems which they rouse are beyond normality and immediately become scabrous, they attract the watchful vigilance of the censor and the denial of the circulation visa. When they are confronted one must resort to ellipses, tangents, and toning down. But even with the great caution which had to be used, the production houses did not renounce proposing this material in their products - given the morbid fascination it exerts on the public. In Germany a fairly numerous series of films of this type was produced which, immediately after the war, were called “Aufklärungsfilm”, literally “illuminating films” and perhaps more correctly “instructive films”."

"The specialist of the genre was Richard Oswald, a versatile director, who was the author of ten or so of these works, today mostly considered as lost. Among these is Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, taken from the novel by Margarete Böhme, and from which Pabst was to draw the film with Louise Brooks almost ten years later. The actress playing Thymian, the young girl who notes her descent into hell in her diary was the fascinating Erna Morena, who we should like to be able to compare with Brooks if Oswald’s film were to be found. And though squeezed between censorship and the protests of spontaneous defenders of public decency, the film gathered a very wide public consensus, enough to induce Oswald to film the follow-up, Dida Ibsens Geschichte, rediscovered and restored, though partially incomplete. Dida Ibsen, the protagonist, is Anita Berber, a famous “Nacht-Tänzerin”, surrounded by a disdainful Conrad Veidt and a moustached and sardonic Werner Krauss."

"Dida Ibsens Geschichte was prohibited in toto by the censor and had rare viewings. Today’s audience of this remnant of the Aufklärungfilm is more fortunate than the audiences of 1918, to whom the film was in large measure denied." Giacomo Manzoli, Il Cinema Ritrovato 1996, Cineteca di Bologna, Bologna 1996.

AA: This episode starts with a typical Richard Oswald ensemble opening: Anita Berber, Werner Krauss, and Conrad Veidt are introduced in exaggerated, comical, and expressive portraits. There is immediately a strange intensity in the ensemble, and that is the main attraction of the Richard Oswald films of this period. The story is ludicrous and played for laughs. Poor Dida Ibsen becomes a mistress for Conrad Veidt who will not marry her but buys her a wine restaurant instead to support her. Werner Krauss, who has read too much Nietzsche ("You go to women? Don't forget the whip!") becomes a regular. When Dida finds out that Conrad is already married she takes her baby and goes to Krauss. At home Krauss, deranged because of a tropical fever, has a menagerie complete with a crocodile and is always carrying a huge live boa around his neck. Dida soon finds out that she is a prisoner at her own home. Finally, Dida is set free, and six men come to arrest Krauss. He is like shell-shocked. "Ich kann nicht anders, ich kann nicht" he says like the murderer in Fritz Lang's M. But mother instructs Dida to be faithful to her husband. - There are impressive deep focus effects in the movie and fine toning effects in the print. - There is sometimes a lack of dynamism in the direction. Richard Oswald seems to think that exciting actors and sensational content are enough.

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