During his silent career, Herr Mauritz Stiller had no problem with different film genres; he moved easily ( as does this German count who flirts with a fat Teutonic rich heiress and then goes to a fatter and-even better- richer one ) from sophisticated, elegant comedies of intrigue, to drama, historical or epic films, as well as literary adaptations. One of the latter is "Vingarne" (1916) ( The Wings ), based on the book "Mikäel" written by Herr Herman Bang. Years later, namely in 1924, the Danish Herr Carl Theodor Dreyer did a successful version for the silent screen using the novel's title.
Herr Stiller's film adaptation of the novel excludes absolutely the homoerotic component that is evident in Herr Dreyer's "Mikäel" and that was likely part of the book as well, a novel that this German count hasn't read due to the great effort that exercise causes to the delicate aristocratic body. Herr Stiller's film focuses exclusively on the conventional although intricate story about the problems that the sculptor Zoret ( Herr Egil Eide ) has with Mikäel (Herr Lars Hanson), a young friend who poses for a sculpture of "Icarus". The model accidentally meets a capricious countess ( Frau Lili Bech ) who needs to spend a lot of money for her whims ( you know, counts or countesses have a lot of extra expensive habits ) Herr Zoret strongly disapproves of the relationship.
So, there is not a subtle or hidden homosexual meaning in "Vingarne" "only" a troubled relationship seen from different perspectives, an interesting though conventional story of greed, friendship, and manipulation. Unfortunately, the film fails due to overacted, stilted performances that become a festival of histrionics making the film seem even older than it is. The actors keep getting in the way of the impeccable art direction and sets.
"Vingarne" included originally a now lost framing device that showed Herr Mauritz Stiller creating this film. The film reconstruction that this Herr Graf watched includes stills and intertitles of the missing footage; a shame because that lost footage seems for this German count more interesting than the main body of the film. The creating of the film is done in a "dramatized" way, especially when Herr Stiller and his crew are involved. This film within a film is a clever idea and a good example of Herr Stiller's inventiveness in searching for original narratives for his films and it redeems "Vingarne" to some extent in spite of its flaws.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must take wing for tonight's soirée.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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