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The Ethiopian King Samlak offers his daughter Makeda to the powerful Pharaoh Amenes in order to secure peace between the two countries. What was intended as a political move ends as a debacle. Instead of Makeda, Amenes chooses Samlak's beautiful slave girl Theonis. Nevertheless, Amenes can not secure the love of Theonis as she is in love with the young Egyptian Ramphis. Having suffered humiliation, the Ethiopians declare war on Egypt. Amenes is injured in a battle and perishes - but only seemingly. The happy union between Theonis and Ramphis is in peril when Pharaoh Amenes returns to claim his wife and his throne. Written by
Peculiar alterations were made to the original German version in the Russian, Italian and US release versions: The Russian version shows the Pharaoh as a tyrannical ruler; harsh and despotic. The Italian version, on the other hand, emphasizes the love-stricken, vulnerable Pharaoh. He eventually loses his power as a result of his love for the beautiful slave girl. Presumably, this portrayal was not acceptable in Russia at the time and the film was edited accordingly. In the US release version the film ends with Ramphis's rise to power and the happy union between him and Theonis. The return of the Pharaoh and the subsequent tragedy is omitted in favor of a happy ending to satisfy the expectations of the US audiences. See more »
When he is reigning as Pharoah, Amenes (Emil Jannings) has a shaved head. When he reappears after having been thought dead, he has a full head of hair. See more »
"Das Weib Des Pharao" (1922) has been one of the most anticipated silent film restorations released in this modernen year. September saw the long awaited premiere of the film which was superbly restored thanks to the efforts of different European institutions. This little known Herr Ernst Lubitsch movie of his German period is now available to the joy of silent film fans around the world.
"Das Weib Des Pharao" was the last film directed by Herr Lubitsch before he departed to Amerika where his career was very different in terms of artistic style and goals. Certainly "Das Weib Des Pharao" is characteristic of his work during his Teutonic epoch.
First of all, the film is "kolossal": magnificent décors, lavish and gorgeous costumes, crowd scenes astonishing in the number of extras employed. This huge production and Herr Lubitsch's mastery transports the audience back to ancient Egypt.
But "Das Weib Des Pharao", spectacular art direction and staging notwithstanding, is also a tormented love story, intimate and nuanced and combining seamlessly with the more spectacular dimension of the plot, the war between the king of Ethiopia Herr Samlak ( Herr Paul Wegener ) and the pharaoh Herr Amenes ( Herr Emil Jannings ). The conflict begins when the king of Ethiopia invades Egypt because his daughter, Frau Makeda ( Frau Lyda Salmonova ) has been rejected by Herr Amenes due to his infatuation with Frau Theonis (Frau Dagny Servaies), namely slave of Frau Makeda. To complicate matters, Theonis is in love with Herr Ramphis (Herr Harry Liedtke). Theonis, against her will, becomes the Queen of Egypt. Tragedy follows for all.
This Herr Von was absolutely fascinated during the scenes between the pharaoh Amenes and the beautiful slave Theonis; Jannings' restrained performance shows all the pain and longing of unrequited love as he vainly tries to win her favour. Some of the scenes are in lovely chiaroscuro; the cinematography by Herr Alfred Hansen und Herr Theodor Sparkhul is brilliant.
"Das Weib Des Pharao" is for this German count a very special Lubistch oeuvre, combining the characteristics of a "kolossal" picture with intimate melodrama. None of the Lubitsch wit is on hand and there is certainly no humor in the film to lighten the story. It remains serious all the way through and is without concessions, making it a very unique Lubitsch film whose rediscovery is a great gift to lovers of the Silent Era.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has an appointment with his beautiful Teutonic slave instead of one of his fat German heiresses.
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