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Ladislav H. Struna,
75 years after the release of EROTIKON, I had a chance to see it in a modern cinema in Wroclaw (Poland). The wonderful experience was intensified by the live background music played by the members of Prague Archa theater. It was a lovely return to the end of silent era, the year 1929. The film EROTIKON, made by Gustav Machaty, caused controversy among the audiences of that time. What particularly shocked them was the way the director showed love scenes. Some admired it, some condemned it and, as a result, it was underrated and lost for years. Fortunately, the copy was found in the 1980s and restored for today's audience who can admire the genius of Machaty.
EROTIKON, like many silent movies, does not offer much action. The content of the movie is, from today's perspective, quite naive. It is a story of complicated love affairs of George (Olaf Fjord) and his number of women. But, astonishingly, love is not showed as sweetly as in other movies of that time. Some love scenes are, indeed, very open and without taboo (Machaty's way of showing sex was mostly revealed in EXTASE (1933).
There are three most memorable moments in this movie:
a love scene between George and Andrea (Ita Rina). It is in no way
vulgar but it is directed towards her face in ecstasy for most of the time. That is probably the thing that shocked the audiences.
a scene of playing chess. The thrilling atmosphere is really
extraordinary. In very few thrillers nowadays will you find an equally well made scene! WONDERFUL!
a considerable number of funny slogans throughout the movie. Some are
dated but still funny in a way.
For anyone who likes European cinema and for whom film is art in itself, no matter of when it was made, Erotikon is a must to see. It was a great work of the Czech cinema. Partly thanks to this movie, I do believe that silent films may still be highly entertaining. Of course in an entirely different way. They require INTERPRETATION rather than AUTOMATIC WATCHING! Lilian Gish (1893-1993), a famous silent movie star, said once when asked about film art that "silent movies were well on their way to developing into an entirely new art; it was not just pantomime but something wonderfully expressive." After seeing EROTIKON, one may infer the same.
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