Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Geheimnisvolle Tiefe / Mysterious Shadows (2018 restoration Filmmuseum München)

Geheimnisvolle Tiefe / Mysterious Shadows. Cornelia (Ilse Werner) caught between two men. One is obsessed with money. The other with the study of the past: Dr. Benn Wittich (Paul Hubschmid).

Profondità misteriose.
    Director: G. W. Pabst. Year: 1949. Country: Austria.
    Scen.: Gertrude Pabst, Walter von Hollander. F.: Helmuth Ashley, Hans Schneeberger. Scgf.: Isabell Schlichting, Werner Schlichting. Mus.: Roland Kovac, Alois Melichar. Int.: Paul Hubschmid (dottor Benn Wittich), Ilse Werner (Cornelia), Stefan Skodler (Robert Roy), Elfe Gerhart (Charlotte), Hermann Thimig (Heinemann), Maria Eis (signora Willard), Otto Schmöle (presidente Ries), Ulrich Bettac (Kessler), Robert Tessen (Bobby Ries), Helli Servi (Krümmel). Prod.: G. W. Pabst per Pabst-Kiba-Filmproduktionsgesellschaft. DCP. D.: 104’. Bn.
    Not released in Finland.
    Restored in 2018 by Filmmuseum München in collaboration with the Svenska Filminstitutet and La Cinémathèque francaise at Alpha Omega Digital laboratory.
    DCP from Filmmuseum München.
    Introduce Stefan Drössler.
    Viewed at Sala Scorsese, Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato (Recovered & Restored 2018), 26 June 2018.

Stefan Drössler (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Bavaria Film’s production schedule for 1941-1942 announced Geheimnisvolle Tiefe (Mysterious Depths) for the first time: the director would be G. W. Pabst, based on a screenplay by his wife Trude and Walther von Hollander, starring Brigitte Horney and Ferdinand Marian. The story focused on a woman in between two men, an idealist who believes in his own powers and delves deep into the dark, prehistoric past, and a materialist who relies on the power of money and lives in the light of the present. But Geheimnisvolle Tiefe was only one of many unrealized projects that Pabst worked on in the early 1940s to avoid being commissioned by Joseph Goebbels to do propaganda films."

"In 1947, after the success of his first post-war film Der Prozess (The Trial, which won several awards at the Venice Film Festival), Pabst founded Pabst Kiba Filmproduction with public funding from the city of Vienna. Geheimnisvolle Tiefe was the most expensive project of the four films produced by this company before its liquidation in 1949. It was the most expensive Austrian production to date, with a popular cast (Ilse Werner and Paul Hubschmid), spectacular locations (the Hermann and Dachstein caves) and lavish settings at the Studio Schönbrunn. But representing Austria at the 1949 Venice Film Festival, the film was a terrible flop: critics called it an “embarrassment”."

"The German premiere took place on September 30, 1950 – more than a year after the Austrian release. The film was cut from 109 minutes to 94 minutes, but the reviews were no less malicious than the Austrian ones. For decades the film was considered lost until in 1992 La Cinémathèque française was able to compile a shortened version from two decomposing nitrate positive prints. Now the critics rate the film as an interesting minor work of Pabst’s “with disturbing metaphorical imagery” (Thomas Brandlmeier) showing traces of many of his early masterpieces. The new digital restoration by Filmmuseum München is based on a recently discovered complete nitrate negative from the collection of the Svenska Filminstitutet." Stefan Drössler

AA: Today was a day of inspired introductions. Stefan Drössler faced with relish the fact that Geheimnisvolle Tiefe is no masterpiece. Yet it has its rewards.

Cornelia (Ilse Werner) is caught between two self-centered men. The millionaire Robert Roy (Stefan Skodler) sees in her a trophy, highly presentable in high society.

Dr. Benn Wittich (Paul Hubschmid) is obsessed with ancient skulls and obscure caves. He risks his life in daring explorations deep inside mountains.

The turning-point of the story is when Robert Roy donates Cornelia a priceless set of jewels. Cornelia must sign a contract with strict terms about its possession. The signing of the document takes place in an atmosphere of divorce.

At this moment Cornelia realizes her role in a play of commodities. She starts to move back to Benn who has experienced a period of self-reflection. He needs her. But there is still a dangerous adventure ahead.

The implausible story is told in a spirit of gleeful abandon with witty repartee. Rarely does one see the leading couple of a movie skating in an underground cave. The commodification of the woman is a theme that connects this film with G. W. Pabst's Weimar classics (Die freudlose Gasse, Die Büchse der Pandora, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen). Here the spirit is less dark and less profound, the title of the film notwithstanding.

A valuable reconstruction and restoration of a lost and found film.

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