Nine Films from Germany, Kobe, 1925


I found this full-page ad in one of the old issues of Kinema Junpo (September 21, 1925). The ad is by a film distributor, probably specialized in German films, to inform exhibitors its new acquisition from UFA. There are nine films listed:

 
Fredericus Rex (1921/22) directed by Arzen von Cserépy

Der Turm des Schweigens (1924) directed by Johaness Guter

Windstürke 9. Die Geschichte einer reichen Erbin (1925) directed by Reinhold Schünzel

Komödie des Herzens (1924) directed by Rochus Gliese

Pietro der Korsar (1925) directed by Arthur Robison

Die Andere (1925) directed by Gerhardt Lamprecht

Mensch gegen Mensch (1924) directed by Hans Steinhoff

Mikaél (1924) directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

Ich Liebe Dich! (1924) directed by Paul L. Stein

How many of these films do you know? Actually, I only knew Mikaél, and I bet you are in the same league as I was. Don’t worry; because, as far as I have researched, less than half of these films have survived, and only Dreyer’s silent drama is widely available for casual viewing. The last part of four-part Fredericus Rex is available on DVD, but the quality is not up to standard (the whole four-part does seem to exist in the archives). Only recently, the restored print of Der Turm des Schweigens (English title: The Tower of Silence) has been screened in several retrospective film festivals. That’s about it. The status of the other titles were either ‘lost’, ‘unknown’ or worse – no mention whatsoever in any place. But still, the pristine prints of these titles have traveled from Berlin to Kobe, Japan, some 90 years ago.

These films were made at the height of UFA’s golden age. In fact, there was the tenth film in this ad, and it was none other than Der letzte Mann (1924) by F. W. Murnau. The film received a full-page spot in the next page. This was the time of Der letzte Mann, Niebelungen, Tartüff, Faust and Metropolis. Back in 1924, a reporter for the German press Film Kurtur, visited the open-set in Neubabelsburg, Berlin, deeply impressed by the sheer wonder of film making art at UFA. There was a gloomy gothic tower from Der Turm des Schweigens, a breathtaking castle from Zur Chronik von Greishuus (1924), the wall from Der Niebelungen, and that apartment building in Der letzte Mann. The creative forces at UFA, from the visionary directors to the artistic-minded producers like Erich Pommer, from a band of legendary cameramen to the progressive art directors, gathered in the psychologically and economically tormented Berlin, and have created influential masterpieces after masterpieces. Yet, today, we have only a fraction of their output. For example, the director of one of the listed film above, Komödie des Herzens (1924), is Rochus Gliese, who went to Hollywood to do art direction in Murnau’s Sunrise (1927), one of the most innovative, beautiful open-air set in the history of cinema. And the art directors for Komödie des Herzens were Robert Herlth and Walter Röhrig, who were also part of Murnau’s team during the critical years of 1920’s. Can you imagine how these three artists, who created visually stunning images after images, at the height of their career, collaborated in this one film? Maybe the film was not a success, but still, it must have been worthwhile for us to study.

Some of these nine films found the exhibitors around Japan, as far as I can gather.

Here are some stills of the films I found.

 

Fredericus Rex (1921/22)
Fredericus Rex (1921/22)
Der Turm des Schweigens (1924)
Windstürke 9. Die Geschichte einer reichen Erbin (1925)
Komödie des Herzens (1924)
Pietro der Korsar (1925)
Mikaél (1924)
Ich Liebe Dich! (1924)

As for Die Andere (1925) and Mensch gegen Mensch (1924), I couldn’t find any reference, except something you could find in IMDB and a very sketchy plot outline for Die Andere … For Mensch gegen Mensch, something seems to have been so wrong about the story written by Norbert Jacques, but I don’t know what. Does anyone know?

 

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