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Leopold von Ledebur
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Oyster-king Quaker cannot be impressed anymore. He is so rich that he even has a special butler holding his cigar while he is smoking. The only thing Quaker would be impressed by is if his daughter Ossi were to marry a real prince. He makes an offer to the poor prince Nucki, who sends his friend Josef to get a clear idea of the woman. Written by
"Die Austernprinzessin", a film directed in the silent year of 1919 by the great German director Herr Ernst Lubitsch, is a very suitable silent film for a decadent Teutonic aristocrat because it is a superb collection of excesses and obviously where there are excesses, there is a German aristocrat.
"Die Austernprinzessin" is a mad Teutonic comedy, absolutely brilliant in its artifice. It tells the frantic story of Dame Ossi ( Dame Ossi Oswalda, who played the German flapper roles in Herr Lubitsch's early comedies like this one ) the whimsical daughter of Herr Quaker ( Herr Victor Janson ), the Amerikan oyster king. He and Dame Ossi are well aware that the shoe cream king's daughter has married a count ( that fräulein has style, ja wohl! ), so Dame Ossi must, at any cost , at least find a prince to wed ( tsk, tsk, tsk ) This is the beginning of a peculiar film full of hilarious, grotesque, surreal and inventive scenes. Of course, by the end of the film, Dame Ossi achieves her matrimonial goal.
Herr Lubitsch spared no effort to accomplish his artistic goals; in the oeuvre there are astounding and modernistic settings by Herr Kurt Richter that give the film an atmosphere of exaggerated grandiloquence revolving around the daily lives of the main characters. The luxurious art direction reflects the luxurious and carefree style of those nouveau rich ( and what can be worse than money at the service of bad taste?), exaggerated to the point of fantasy; for example, the bath scene in which Dame Ossi needs a lot of servants in order to take a bath properly, or the wedding banquet scene in where there are as many servants as different dishes, including one for desserts, coffee and cigars. Such shameless opulence in those hard Weimar days aims at getting the audience to briefly forget their troubles and laugh out loud at Herr Lubitsch's wildly nonsensical ideas.
There is a curiosity in "Die Austernprinzessin"; at the end of the film, Herr Lubitsch betrays his most sacred film precept, in the scene where Herr Quaker spies on his just married daughter through the bedroom door keyhole. Herr Lubitsch, fortunately wouldn't repeat this mistaken voyeurism later in his career because the great German director came to know very well that malicious suggestion is preferable to showing plainly what happens behind a closed door
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must eat two dozen oysters while being careful not to swallow the pearls inside.
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