Student Raskolnikow, who has written an article about laws and crime, proposing the thesis, that un-ordinary people can commit crimes if their actions are necessary for the benifit of ... See full summary »
Student Raskolnikow, who has written an article about laws and crime, proposing the thesis, that un-ordinary people can commit crimes if their actions are necessary for the benifit of mankind, murders an old woman, who operates a crooked loaning house, as well as her sister, who made the mistake of visiting her at the wrong time. He is suspected of the crime, but somebody else confesses to the murder. Meanwhile, he has fallen in love with Sonja, the street-walking daughter of an ex-official who was fired because of drinking. Raskolnikow's sister is engaged with an arrogant official, who dislikes him, because Raskolnikow gave Sonja 25 Rubel for her father's funeral. When Raskolnikow tells him his opinion of his behaviour against the poor, he tries to show he's a good guy also to the public and showing that Sonja is also a thief at the same time by framing her of a theft of 100 Rubels. But after this, Raskolnikow finds out that Sonja was a very close friend of his second victim... Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You will have an awful time with the Oldies.com version of this very rare film. Most scenes simply disappear into over-contrasty red-tinged sepia. It's so bad at times that you can't even make out people's expressions. Most of the scenery gets lost in the darkness.
That's too bad, because this movie does confirm several things about Robert Wiene: First that he was a mediocre director and that The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari was just a fluke, and second that he was a master of both composing and filming expressionistic set design. By the time this film was made, both modern plot devices and the "flow" of silent films were already several years in place. This means that the average viewer would be able to follow both the action and the inter title cards, and that from one scene to the next the film would have a logical progression.
This film doesn't do that. It's really hard to follow what's going on as there is virtually no continuity of either scene or plot. The characters tend to be assembled and encouraged to grandstand in front of the camera, without regard to how things are moving along elsewhere in the story. It seems as if there's no "head" here, as if no one read or understood the script. Certainly the actors weren't coached that way. In modern times, we'd call that an amateur director. You can't even make the excuse that this problem is from the time period, or is "expressionistic acting". Not with Murnau and Lang operating in the same time period. This sort of thing may have worked on "Caligari", it simply doesn't work here. The story line is way too conventional for "shots in the viewer's face", and its director should have known that.
On the other hand, the set design is amazing, simply incredible, mind boggling good. It's as if they tried to reproduce the look of "Caligari" on a much larger budget. The multi-level 3D expressionistic sets must have been very impressive. Too bad you can't actually see them due to the poor print on this DVD.
I went to the Murnau Stiftung in Wiesbaden Germany a number of years ago. The only complete print of this film is being held in Munich. Someone should get to it and release this film in better quality. At least you could spend your time marveling at the sets.
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