In the castle Vogeloed, a few aristocrats are awaiting baroness Safferstätt. But first count Oetsch invites himself.. Everyone thinks he murdered his brother, baroness Safferstat's first ...
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In this uncredited and apparently lost version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" the protagonist is Dr. Warren, who indulges his evil nature by ... See full summary »
In the castle Vogeloed, a few aristocrats are awaiting baroness Safferstätt. But first count Oetsch invites himself.. Everyone thinks he murdered his brother, baroness Safferstat's first husband, three years ago. So he is rather undesirable. But Oetsch stays; arguing he is not the murderer and will find the real one... Written by
This is Murnau's 1921 silent horror-mystery in it's full glory. At 5 acts (of varying length) with all the intertitles included, this cut was found intact in a South American archive, and restored by a couple German groups, who re-released it in 2002 with a modern soundtrack.
It tells the story of a wealthy family who are hosting a gathering at their castle home on the evening before their annual hunt. A man named Count Oestch has crashed the party, despite the host attempting to stop him. It is believed that he had murdered his own brother in cold blood, so that he alone could inherit their family fortune. And he refuses to leave, despite the fact that he is well aware the widow of his brother will soon be coming. Though incredibly disturbed by this revelation, the lady of the house does manage to convince the re-married widower to stay- seeing as a Priest from Rome, whom is a relative of her deceased husband, will be rolling in the following night.
The next morning starts out as a beautiful day, and the group heads out on the hunt. But their fun is interrupted by a terrible storm, and they are driven back inside, where they wait for the Father to show up. All except for Oestch, of course, who heads out into the storm to go hunting by himself. The widower takes this oppourtunity to turn to the Father for comfort, as she feels he is the only one who understands her situation.
She recounts her experiences to him in flashbacks. How they fell in love. How she discovered him to be a humble man who wasn't attached to the same aristocratic lifestyle as she was. How this led her to take on a secret lover who would later become her husband. How he wanted to philanthropically donate the family fortune...putting him at odds with his brother. And perhaps how she was privy he was to be murdered? The Father retires to ponder over what has just been revealed to him; while the rest of the group sit down for a great feast, during which they will celebrate and revel about the hunt. Her husband insists he must talk to the Father, though. However, when he tries to call on him, he gets no reply...and they can't get into his room. Now everyone is worried. Where has he gone? When they do, eventually, get into the room...it's empty. Now, not only are they all worried...but they are becoming paranoid as well- barricading their doors and sleeping with their weapons. Although, they can't hide from their nightmares....
The next day, many of their visitors awaken ready to leave...terrified. Those who remain have noticed that the widower has become very silent since the disappearance of the Father. They confront Count Oestch about the rumours relating to his past- thinking he may have something to do with Father's disappearance- but he just laughs it off. A second attempt illicits a more aggressive response, which culminates with the widower's husband being, himself, accused of murder. Was the Count being framed this whole time? This seems to be the case, and (as was foreshadowed earlier) it seems that his wife and her new husband were actually the ones responsible for plotting his death. They can no longer hide their guilt. But in a final attempt to save face, the wife of the deceased fingers the Count as the certain killer.
The rest of group is trying to figure out what to do...when the Father suddenly returns- immediately confronting the widower. She has a plan, though: to confess to the Priest- so that she can get it off her chest in a way that it will remain confidential. She claims that she had become possessed by evil and became obsessed with witnessing a murder. After telling this to her secret lover (her new husband), she continues, he mistakenly took this literally, and acted on it by going out and brazenly murdering him. She persists with the suggestion that he later confessed this to her, and it was only then that she had become aware of this and overcome by guilt. She even goes as far as saying that they only kept quiet about the whole ordeal because the Count escaped conviction; and married only because they were both bound by guilt. But the Father does not seem to be buying it... Inevitably, she admits everything, but demands the Father remain silent. Unfortunately for her...the tricks on them- as there is a clever twist which results in the fulfilment of an earlier prophecy foretold by the Count.
As you may have noticed, each of the above paragraphs corresponds to an act. This is definitely not one of Murnau's best films, but it is a clever little mystery, with a slight horror angle. It starts off slowly, and takes a while to get going, but the end has a nice pace to it. It's very Hollywood, as opposed to cinematic (if you know what I mean), which is a shame. But at least there were some flashbacks and dream sequences thrown in there.
5.5 out of 10.
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