Hans Neumann had initially proposed the project and diligently championed the film and navigated it through a particularly treacherous path to completion. However, Ufa Studios felt that Neumann (who had only one directorial credit to his name) was too inexperienced to direct the film himself, so the role fell to G. W. Pabst. See more »
Although it has an enormous reputation as a classic example of German Expressionist Cinema, "Secrets of a Soul" turns out to have very few of these pictorial elements. That reputation was obviously built on the opinions of critics who had not actually seen the movie but had referenced the illustration reproduced on the poster. It is not a still from the movie at all, but a composite made up by the publicity department.
Admittedly, we do see the various dreams individuallyand they are even briefly reprizedbut even so, they constitute but an extremely small part of the movie which mostly centers on the well-off but distinctly middle-aged hero's sudden aversion to his young and extremely attractive wife.
I realize that this was obviously not the scriptwriter's intention, as it appears from the flashback that the three participants are roughly the same age. The casting, however, particularly of the 25-year-old Weyher, as well as youngish Jack Trevor, makes nonsense of this supposition. We are forced to accept the movie in the way it appears on the screen, not in the way it was postulated in the minds of the screenwriters.
I suppose you could argue that the dreams are presented in an expressionistic fashion (though I would disagree), but you can't get away from the fact that they display little visual imagination. And in any event, they occupy very little screen time.
As the middle-aged lead, Werner Krauss does extremely well in conveying the domestic disparity he suffers with his young wife. He has obviously been married for at least five or six years and his attitude is not so much loving, as reserved, suspicious, ill-tempered and even resentful. As said, this was probably not the way Neumann and Ross intended, but it's the way Krauss plays the role and, more importantly, the way Pabst has directed it. So what have here is not so much expressionism, as a moderately gripping domestic drama.
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