‘Mis’-interpretting UNTERNEHMEN MICHAEL

Karl Ritter’s direction is skillful, but it is the soul of filmmaking that shine through more brilliantly than skill. The soul to make something complete is within him. A great filmmaker. Kenji Mizoguchi on Karl Ritter (1940)   I think Karl Ritter is overrated tremendously. When he handles a patriotic subject, he uses an extremely vulgar approach. Joseph Goebbels on Karl Ritter (1939) In 1940, a German UFA production, UNTERNEHMEN MICHAEL was imported to Japanese market, only to be censored by the Japanese officials before its release in theaters. One of the leading movie magazines at the time, STAR, printed …

Two Totalitarian Regimes, Two films

As I mentioned before, foreign film market in 1930’s Japan was very lively and energetic, even in the eve of Pearl Harbor attack. Especially German and Austrian cinema were quite popular, not just because Japan had a political alliance with the Nazi regime, but also because people simply loved sweet scent of Hapsburg Empire and of German clinical efficiency. As I read through several literatures and contemporary periodicals, I find many of their observations on certain films, aesthetics, film techniques or directors were radically different from our views today. One of such examples is the case for Karl Ritter. Karl …

Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht (1932)

A nightclub waiter and a manicurist share the small apartment room. Though they share the closet, the furniture, even sleep in the same bed, they have never met. Why? He has the room during the day and she the night. They hate each other and complain about other’s belongings in their hair all the time. The story gets complicated when they do meet each other and fall in love, without knowing who they are…. Located somewhere between “Lonesome (1929)” and “The Shop Around The Corner (1940)”, this UFA production is a sheer delight. Very smooth plot handling, nice art production …