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Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to ... See full summary »
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Soon after the death of his first wife (whose dowry was inadequate), Charles Bovary, a country doctor in Normandy, marries Emma Rouault, who is well-endowed in every sense. In her new home,... See full summary »
A couple is brutally murdered in the working-class district of Paris. Later on, the narrative follows the lives of their two daughters, both in love with a Parisian thug and leading them to separate ways.
This short early silent from the French master Renoir shows a good deal of imagination on the director's part although not in terms of casting: he once more looked no further than his then wife Catherine Hessling whom he was trying to build into a star for the lead role. Hessling is too old for the part, but at times she does manage to convey a degree of innocence required for the role, even if it does mean her performance borders on the (deliberately) comical at times. This being an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's tragic short story, these brief light-hearted moments are at odds with the general theme.
The second part of the film veers off into fantasy as we're treated to the girl's childlike fantasies as she slowly freezes to death. Again, there's a good deal of imagination gone into this sequence, but it does become a little repetitive after a while. The spectre of Death, initially in the form of a Jack-in-the-Box, looms over the fantasies, however, until the film climaxes with a concisely edited chase sequence on horseback.
This is a curious choice of story for Renoir, and it obviously doesn't reach the standard of his later output. However, it possesses a Gallic charm that sets it apart from most films of the era, and is worth catching simply to see a master of cinema near the beginning of his cinematic career.
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