THERE IS A NEWSREEL ALONG WITH THE FILM, JUST AS GERMAN AUDIENCES MIGHT HAVE SEEN WHEN THE MOVIE WAS FIRST SHOWN (except this newsreel may not be contemporary to when the film was released).
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH NO SUBTITLES (except for the Newsreel). APPROX. 117 MINS. COMBINED TOTAL. VERY GOOD FILM QUALITY OVERALL, THOUGH THERE IS SOME ABRUPT JUMPING FROM SCENE TO SCENE DURING ONE PART OF THE MOVIE.
Anna Jobst is the daughter of a rich, conservative farmer. Living on the bank of the Moldau, she wishes nothing more than to follow the river to Prague, the "Golden City". When her father makes a journey, she actually breaks away against his declared will. In Prague, she stays with her aunt, soon to be seduced by her degenerate cousin. This cousin, however, loses interest in her, when news reaches the city that her father has disinherited her. Pregnant and desperate, Anna decides to return home, but is turned away.
IN GERMAN WITH SWITCHABLE ENGLISH SUBTITLES. APPROX. 100 MINS. EXCELLENT QUALITY.
DIE REISE NACH TILSIT (1939) * with switchable English subtitles*
The story here is almost identical to 'Sunrise'. Endrik Settegast (Fritz van Dongen) is a poor fisherman in a village across the bay from the city of Tilsit. Elske (Kristina Söderbaum) is his simple wife, plain-looking but not unattractive. Endrik runs afoul of Madlyn, a rather obviously 'bad' woman, who sets out to seduce him. It's never clear, in either film version of this story, why the temptress puts so much effort into seducing the pauper husband, as he has nothing to offer her apart from his good looks and brawny physique. Madlyn persuades Endrik that the two of them should run away to the big city together ... but first Endrik must kill his wife. Endrik lures the unsuspecting Elske into his tiny sailboat, on the pretext of taking her to Tilsit. Halfway across the bay, he makes known his intentions to kill her. And then ... if you've seen 'Sunrise', you already know the rest. If not, I don't want to spoil that pleasure for you by revealing it here.
I have to mention that there's an air of unreality in 'Sunrise'. Murnau's film features a bizarre scene in which the husband and wife board a tram that stops in the middle of the woods. After a brief ride, they arrive in a city of hugely exaggerated skyscrapers, resembling 'Metropolis' or 'Just Imagine' more than any realistic place. On some level, this exaggeration makes sense: we're seeing this city through the wondering eyes of a couple of hicks. In Veit Harlan's remake, everything is more realistic. Elske and her husband board a Strassenbahn that looks very prosaic and plausible, and it conveys them to a realistic city. (The exterior sequences in this film have a documentary feel.) Harlan's version of this story is in every way more realistic than Murnau's silent masterpiece ... but for precisely that reason, this remake lacks most of the lyrical beauty of that splendid film. In 'Sunrise', the main characters are identified as 'the Man' and 'the Woman', and they visit a generic Big City. This heightens the universality of the story, and also its unreality. In Harlan's remake, a realistic peasant couple visit a clearly identified real place. It's possible that German audiences in 1939 preferred a story that was explicitly about Germans in a German setting.
The photography in 'The Excursion to Tilsit' is beautiful throughout. The scene in the Tilsit cafe, when Endrik desperately pleads with Elske to forgive him (after he's just attempted to murder her) is compelling and deeply believable: this was for me the least plausible scene in 'Sunrise', and it's the one scene in which Harlan's film surpasses the original. Kristina Söderbaum gives a fine performance as the peasant wife: we completely understand that she lives in a world in which women with no money have few options, and that she's arguably better off with a husband who might just possibly kill her than with no husband at all. Fritz van Dongen is believable as her husband. The child actor who plays their small son Jons, actually gives a good performance that avoids becoming maudlin. The scenes in the fishing village are fascinating, and utterly realistic.
THERE IS A NEWSREEL PREVIEW BEFORE THE FILM, JUST AS GERMAN AUDIENCES MIGHT HAVE SEEN WHEN THE MOVIE WAS FIRST SHOWN (except this newsreel may not be contemporary to when the film was released).
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH OPTIONAL ENGLISH SUBTITLES. APPROX. 108 MINS. COMBINED TOTAL. WELL-WORN, VHS-LIKE QUALITY OVERALL, BUT WATCHABLE.
OPFERGANG (1944) * with switchable English subtitles*
Aels, a rich and tempermental woman from the North, moves to Hamburg. She lives in a mansoin besides the newly married couple, Alrecht and Octavia. The friendship between Aels and Albrecht does not disturb the harmony of this marriage. But soon, Aels has a reoccurrence of a tropical disease, and because she is confined to bed, Albrecht rides by each day on his horse to her window and inquires as to her health. When, eventually, he gets sick with an epidemic, his wife takes over this dear service and greets Aels in her riding clothes, pretending to be Albrecht and comforting the sick woman, so as to not worry her about Albrecht also being sick. Aels, however, is not completely fooled and ends up dying of a broken heart. It turns out, she cannot live without Albrecht's love -something Albrecht only finds about from her last letter to him before her death.
This film was put out by the famous (notorious?) director Veit Harlan (who directed Kolberg ...inquire about that film!) in 1944 and is shot in glorious AGFA color.
DVD-R IS 89 minutes long. REGION FREE (will play in any DVD player)
FILM QUALITY: Not digital quality, but very good nonetheless. A vast improvement on our previous print.
AVAILABLE IN GERMAN WITH OPTIONAL ENGLISH SUBTITLES.
Seraphine Lawrence and her mother Madeleine travel from Canada to the World Expo in Paris in 1867. They're staying in different hotels and Seraphine's mother goes missing. But this is not a simple matter of a missing person: all traces of Madeleine's visit to Paris are expunged -- visa stamps have disappeared, too and the police aren't much help. Seraphine is beginning to question her sanity, wondering if her mother actually ever came with her. But then the police break their silence: Madeleine has died of the plague and the police want no panic at the Expo. The body was removed and all traces of her existence obliterated.
IN GERMAN WITH NO SUBTITLES. EXCELLENT DIGITALQUALITY. APPROX. 78 MINS.
IMMENSEE (1943) *with switchable English subtitles*
The storyline is simple enough: when a friend of her husband's comes to spend her vacation at their inn, a woman's love is sorely tested.
However, this rare film, directed by Veit Harlan, is rather typical of most of his films: big-time melodrama with a capital "M" and he isn't ashamed of using everything in his arsenal to ensure we don't forget that. The acting is pregnant with tears, the dialog is highly noble without ever being more than superfluous, and everything is through-scored with an academic, predictable, serious and dignified symphonic score, which flows over the viewers like slow-moving lava does over tourists too stupid enough to put down the camera and run away from the spouting volcano. The film might work, if the protagonists were more sympathetic. They are, unfortunately, not: Karl Raddatz is anything but the handsome hero he is meant to be. Kristina Söderbaum only has one or two emotions to display in the whole film, and being the rather robust woman that she is (and who looks as gentle as a stormtrooper cuddling a pit bull), she really shouldn't have been cast in all these over-suffering roles. But then, her husband knew better. The colour photography is very good, and some of the cast - like pretty Käthe Dyckhoff who enjoyed a brief career during the war - are likable.
Unfortunately, this print suffers from the ravages of time and a bad transfer. The colors are very good .. too good; the overly rich AGFA tones are corrupted by the bad copy and there is a line on the bottom of the print reflecting the original transfer onto VHS. The overall quality of the film is "well-used VHS", but quite watchable. The soundtrack is soft and you will need to turn up the TV, but there isn't much distortion at the louder volumes to make this annoying. Overall, considering the rareness of the film, it's still very much recommended ... if you can stomach Veit Harlan's films.
APPROX. 88 MINS. VERY GOOD FILM QUALITY WITH MINOR PICTURE DEFECTS AT TIMES. A VAST IMPROVEMENT OVER OUR PREVIOUSLY OFFERED PRINT.
DVD-R IS IN GERMAN WITH OPTIONAL ENGLISH SUBTITLES.