Thursday, June 28, 2012

Die Weber / The Weavers [2012 digital restoration with music by Johannes Kalitzke]

DE 1927. D: Friedrich Zelnik. Based on the play by Gerhart Hauptmann. C: Fanny Carlsen, Willy Haas. DP: Frederik Fuglsang, Friedrich Weinmann. AD: Andrej Andrejew. Co : George Grosz. C: Paul Wegener (Dreissiger), Valeska Stock (Signora Dreissiger), Hermann Picha (Baumert), Hertha von Walther (Emma Baumert), Kamilla von Hollay (Bertha Baumert), Arthur Kraussneck (Hilse), Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (Gottlieb Hilse), Dagny Servaes (Luise Hilse). PC: Zelnik-Film. Premiere: 14 maggio 1927. M: Johannes Kalitzke (2012). HD Cam. 97’. B&w. From: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung. Thursday 28 July 2012, Cinema Lumière - Sala Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Introduced by Ernst Szebedits and Anke Wilkening (FWMS).

Anke Wilkening: “The adaptation of Gerhart Hauptmann`s drama Die Weber (The Weavers) was the most ambitious project of Friedrich Zelnik, an old hand at directing entertainment films. When Hauptmann released his play on the mid-19th century’s weaver riots in 1892, it was perceived as the first drama without individual heroes. This conceived it an ideal source for a German revolution film. The careful adaptation by Fanny Carlsen and Willy Haas aimed at “mirroring the processes of the masses in the individual” (Willy Haas).

“George Grosz was responsible for makeup and costumes. Whereas the intertitle’s style is still expressionistic, the editing and mise en scène are influenced by Ejzenštejn and Pudovkin and render the film an example for German filmmakers’ adaption of contemporary Russian cinema."

"The digital restoration by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden, bases on three contemporary distribution prints from Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF, EYE – Film Institute Netherlands, and Cinémathèque Suisse. The elements were scanned at 2K resolution and the digital image restoration was carried out in HD. Johannes Kalitzke’s orchestra score (2012) combines parodistic and genre typical elements like march or worker’s hymns with electronic sounds of weaving machines. The 2012 edition of Die Weber is a coproduction of Friedrich-WilhelmMurnau-Stiftung, Theater Augsburg, and ZDF in collaboration with ARTE.” Anke Wilkening, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

AA: Gerhart Hauptmann dedicated his play to his father Robert Hauptmann, and the tragic drama seems to be based on family tradition. It is a drama about class struggle, and it is surprising to see a high budget German film the subject of which is so close to great works of the heroic era of the Soviet cinema. The film is also tragic because it shows the devastation which ensues when the crowd is debased into a mob which destroys the textile magnat's manor and proceeds to break the textile machines which threaten the traditional livelihood of the weavers. Deferential weavers refuse to participate in the revolt, but the religious grandfather gets killed by a stray bullet all the same. The film is very well made, it has a strong dynamic arc, it is visually powerful, and the epic scenes of the revolutionary crowd facing the police and the military are impressive. A special feature of the movie is the graphic design by George Grosz, starting with the animal vignettes in the opening credit sequence and continuing with the animated graphic design of the intertitles which goes further than in Metropolis: there is a 3D mobile approach to certain key sentences which become moving lettrist vignettes. The new modernist score might be worthy listening in its own right in a concert hall, but it has no connection at all with the movie, even missing all auditive cues such as the central motif of the storm bells. From the back row of Sala Mastroianni the visual quality looks good, clear and clean, but whether it might be slightly airless was impossible to judge in these circumstances.

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