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Eva Marie Saint,
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At the last Pordenone Silent Film Festival (2010), the first reel of "Maritza", the Italian title for "Marizza, genannt die Schmuggler- Madonna" has been shown.
In this first act (275,8 m. long - about 13 min at 18fps), Murnau portrays characters whose original ethnic richness recalls the border zone where the story is set. He registers their behavior, echoing their nature in their animals, relating them (or putting them against each other) in the compositions or via editing effects that make the story progress very swiftly. Cinematography is by great Karl Freund, rich in chiaroscuro and depth of focus composition. So, we learn about the wild nature of Marizza, who stands in sharp contrast with the local families, entangled by relationships of money and power. As in "Der Gang in die Nacht" or "Phantom", the grotesque is highlighted, while restrained by the excessive formality of the upper classes. But some unexpected attitudes in these moments reveal major conflicts in history.
Other elements remind us especially of "Nosferatu": the expressive use of landscape, the mysterious connections created by editing, the importance of money as the basic motivation of men, and a somewhat vampiric predisposition in nature, embodied here by Marizza. The film's warm palette echoes the will for nature and spring desire. And maybe because of the loss of the other reels, we feel it creates an "edge of the world" Utopian quality.
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