Friday, July 01, 2011

Lucrezia Borgia (1922) (2011 restoration by Bundesarchiv - Filmarchiv)

DE 1922. D+SC: Richard Oswald. T. it.: Lucrezia Borgia; Based on the novel by Harry Scheff (1913); DP: Karl Freund, Karl Vass, Carl Drews, Frederik Fuglsang; PD: Robert Neppach, Botho Höfer; Co.: Robert Neppach; Op.: Karl Freund; Ass. op.: Robert Baberske; Cast: Liane Haid (Lucrezia Borgia), Conrad Veidt (Cesare Borgia), Albert Bassermann (Rodrigo Borgia), Paul Wegener (Micheletto), Heinrich George [in one of his earliest roles: he started in the cinema in 1921] (Sebastiano), Adolf Edgar Licho (Lodovico), Wilhelm Dieterle (Giovanni Sforza), Lothar Müthel (Giovanni Borgia), Alphons Fryland (Alfonso d’Aragona), Käte Waldeck-Oswald (Naomi), Alexander Granach, Anita Berber (contessa Giulia Orsini), Lyda Salmonova, Mary Douce (Florentina), Max Pohl, Adele Sandrock, Wilhelm Diegelmann (Wirt), Philipp Manning, Hugo Döblin, Clementine Plessner, Viktoria Strauß (Rosaura), Tibor Lubinszky (Gennaro Page); P: Richard Oswald-Film AG, Berlin; Pri. pro.: 20 ottobre 1922 Berlin. 35 mm. 3284 m. 146’ a 18 fps. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Bundesarchiv – Filmarchiv. Restored in 2011. Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato: Conrad Veidt retrospective), 1 July 2011. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen. Introduce Barbara Schütz.

Catalogue: "Max Reinhardt’s influence did lead to many costume films being set in the Renaissance: Die Pest in Florenz [by Otto Rippert], one of the episodes of Der müde Tod [by Fritz Lang], Lucrezia Borgia and Monna Vanna [by Richard Eichberg], for example. We sometimes find the recollection of a Reinhardt production leading second-rate directors to film a few effectively framed shots: in Richard Oswald’s Lucrezia Borgia, for example, a row of soldiers forming a thick hedge prickling with lances recalls a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry IV in Reinhardt’s production of 1912. There also soldiers deployed along the stage contrived to give the impression of an entire army. As in Reinhardt, a few tooled sets of armour and a flag drifting in the wind establish points of reference in the design. If these compositions seem to reflect one of Uccello’s famous battle-scenes, this is due to Reinhardt." Lotte H. Eisner, The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2008.

AA: I was able to see most of this film but not the end because of an overlap with Wild River. - A meticulous reconstruction of an epic film. The length is now 3005 m; 280 m are still missing. This was the first screening of the reconstruction, still in black and white. - The Renaissance story that starts in the year 1495 befits Bologna. Included are memorable moments of history such as the one where Alfonso examines the model of St. Peter's Basilica. - Lucrezia Borgia belongs to the tyrant films of the Weimar Republic, with Conrad Veidt as Cesare Borgia leading an all star cast. - This is also a typical Richard Oswald film, his familiar faces here including Anita Berber. - Although a big budget production, aspects of the art direction are based on obvious miniature work, probably meant to be rendered less blatant by tinting. - There is an emphasis on the atrocities of the Borgia family, told in a casual fashion. - There is not enough dynamism in the direction, a sense of an irresistible drive is missing. - The great actors create highly stylized characters and often resort to histrionics. - It seems that Richard Oswald's Lucrezia Borgia is a film of exciting moments but not necessarily one of the Weimar masterworks.

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