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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Lupu Pick's "Sylvester" is the perfect example of "Kammerspiele", but , since this German is afraid that you don't speak the most eloquent of languages but only a primitive and ordinary one, I will tell you that in ,your rough tongue, that word means "intimate theater". Kammerspiele films are set in closed spaces, Teutonic tales of ordinary lives but with strong Expressionist influences.
This remarkable film is by the director Lupu Pick, who was Rumanian by birth but German by adoption, it is, together with "Scherben" (1921), a great and fascinating film for it's design, screenplay and perfect film direction.
The film is set in a bar on New Year's Eve. We see plenty of Germans swilling beer nonstop (such is the custom among my middle class countrymen). The owner of the bar and his wife await the arrival of his mother for a little celebration together.
Nevertheless it will not take much time for tension to build between the two women (you know, even non aristocratic German women are hard natured), giving rise finally to an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility. The man is caught in the middle and is finally pushed to the brink.
As this German count said before, this is a very distinguished "Kammerspiele" film and takes place mostly on one set, thus focusing the attention of the audience on the actors' performances. The actors in "Sylvester" are great; they create vivid human portraits full of the contradictions and jealousies of people who experience joy and tragedy in an unexpected way.
Herr Pick has put together, in an elegant and accurate way, the familiar atmosphere of New Year's celebrations with simultaneous and different scenes of the same night: he cuts between the bar with its happy clients and the crowded main street with plenty of different types of people celebrating in their own way. Pick contrasts the poor people and their humble gatherings on the street with the hullabaloo of the private and elegant dance parties held by the newly rich (don't be tricked, these are sickly imitations of the genuine and aristocratic ones), but in the midst of this supposed joyousness, Pick gives us a mosaic of turmoil and tragedy just under the surface.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must attend another exciting New Year's Eve soiree, because for us, German aristocrats, each night of the year is New Year's Eve.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien
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