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Carmen (1918)

 -  Drama  -  8 May 1921 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 142 users  
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The tragic story of Don Jose, a Spanish cavalryman, who falls under the spell of a gypsy girl, Carmen, who treats him with both love and contempt and leads him into temptation and thus ... See full summary »

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Title: Carmen (1918)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Leopold von Ledebur ...
Grete Diercks ...
Dolores
...
Gefängniswärter / Prison Guard
Heinrich Peer ...
Englischer Offizier
Margarete Kupfer ...
Carmens Wirtin - Landlady
Sophie Pagay ...
Don Josés Mutter
Paul Conradi ...
Don Cairo
Max Kronert ...
Magnus Stifter ...
Lieutnant Escamillo
Paul Biensfeldt ...
Soldat
Victor Janson
Albert Venohr
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Storyline

The tragic story of Don Jose, a Spanish cavalryman, who falls under the spell of a gypsy girl, Carmen, who treats him with both love and contempt and leads him into temptation and thus damnation. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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A stirring love tale of Old Spain. Based on the original French version of Prosper Merimee's "Carmen" (1921 Gypsy Blood poster) See more »

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Drama

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Release Date:

8 May 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gypsy Blood  »

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1.33 : 1
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Version of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Considering the talents involved, a bitter disappointment
20 April 1999 | by (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Considering the great talents of Ernst Lubitsch and Hanns Kräly this film is a bitter disappointment; were it not for these men and Pola Negri's Carmen, this film would be hardly worth mentioning; it could have been made by any competent, but uninspired director. During the credits Lubitsch is shown behind his desk smoking a cigarette and not a cigar!!; as if the viewer is already warned that this film is not "Lubitsch".

Problems start with the casting of Don José. Pola Negri is sensual, lively and very good (though very Teutonic, but I can accept that), Harry Liedtke on the other hand is stiff as a board; probably his military uniform was too tight to give him room for natural movement and expression. Therefore not one Negri/Liedtke scene works; when ever the viewer expects eroticism and longing, Spike Jones' parody of Bizet's Carmen enters the mind.

The adaptation is too straight-forward, and - more importantly - spiritless. Besides, on several moments the story telling is that clumsy, that it is hard to follow the story, were it not that the subject is widely known. But there may be a reason for this: Herman G. Weinberg (in his book "The Lubitsch Touch") claims that originally the story was told in flashback within a frame story (these parts being coloured-in by hand)and as such more or less following the set-up of Merimée's novel. I could not find confirmation of this and the copy I saw today only had the "Carmen story". Nonetheless the problem still remains that - with the exception of a few scenes like the one in which Carmen throws a flower at Don Jose- the film is pasted together with scenes that do not even try to capture the spirit of the novel: it never really visualizes the nuances of the relationship of Carmen and Don José; was that aspect of the novel too subtle for the German public? Were they only interested in an exotic environment and Carmen just happened to be in it?

Quite some other weak points could be mentioned; a 1000 words would not do. To mention but a few: 1) Don José's fiancée is introduced at the beginning of the film, only to disappear totally as the film progresses. She returns only once in the prison scene (Don José in agony over to escape or not), but in a double exposure trick as old as cinematography and too corny for Lubitsch. 2) We spend long minutes at the coast when every (and I mean every) gang member tries to cross the water; I was waiting to see at least one member fall into the water to give the scene some tension and meaning. 3) Lubitsch was known for his direction of masses; but I could for instance make neither nor tail of the marching in of the soldiers. 4) How could Lubitsch be contented with a bull-fighting scene without a bull? (To get a real Spanish bull into Germany that short after the war was over, indeed might have been a problem) But why was not a better (filmic) solution found? As it is now it is just, well, bull ....

It was a huge success in Germany with audiences and press, but I think we should not be mislead by that. This success says more about the psyche of a defeated country after 4 years of war than about the film. Curiously enough in 1947 Lubitsch said that Carmen was one of his best dramas claiming that he made a drama not influenced by Italian dramas. Did he ever see it again? I wonder.


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