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Erich von Stroheim
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Leo and Ulrich are life long friends. Home, on leave from their military training, Leo sees the beautiful Felicitas at the railroad station. Awed by her beauty, they meet again at the ball and quietly leave together. In her room, her husband, about whom she has neglected to inform Leo, comes in and challenges Leo to a duel. The duel is done, the Count is killed, and Felicitas is a widow. Leo, however, is 'requested' to serve 5 years in Africa and he tells Ulrich to watch over Felicitas while he is gone. After 3 years, Ulrich is able to get a pardon for Leo, and all that Leo thinks about on the way home is Felicitas. When he arrives, he learns that Felicitas has married Ulrich. Felicitas likes that Ulrich is rich and she never told Ulrich the truth about Leo and her. Leo is crushed and does not visit them which saddens Ulrich as he does not know the reason why. Leo tries to stay away from her, but Felicitas uses every opportunity to tempt him to return to her as her lover. She creating... Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FLESH AND THE DEVIL is an example of the artistic heights silent film could achieve. The emphasis is less on narrative, especially as revealed by speech, than a series of images which suggest a story and the feelings of the various players (just compare FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1927) to ANNA Christie (1930) to see the effect talkies would have on the art of visual and suggestive storytelling).
Clarence Brown has done a tremendous job directing the film. It must be said he was one of the more talented directors in old Hollywood, but this film suggests he was better than he has ever been given credit for. Scenes flow smoothly with little explanation, only subtle suggestion. In a scene when Felicitas' (Garbo) husband has been involved in a duel, instead of showing which man was shot and killed, the scene changes to the next day, where Garbo is dressed in black to suggest mourning for her dead husband. There was no need to show the man dying or explain which was shot; Garbo in black accomplishes this masterfully.
In the last duel sequence, filmed brilliantly with lightly falling snow flakes (which Clarence Brown would later use so memorably in a pivotal scene in SADIE MCKEE), Garbo is running to save the lives and friendship of two men fighting for her. In a magical scene, she runs across an iced lake in the snow and suddenly the ice splits, she falls in, and drowns. It is accomplished in just a few seconds, and then a veil is lifted on the two dueling friends. They drop their weapons and embrace. The devil woman, the femme fatale who came between them, is dead.
It is a fabulous movie.
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