Prague in the 1860s: Balduin is a popular, handsome student, the best fencer in town, in amicable rivalry with his friend Dahl for the affections of Lydia, the innkeeper's niece. While the ... See full summary »
Prague in the 1860s: Balduin is a popular, handsome student, the best fencer in town, in amicable rivalry with his friend Dahl for the affections of Lydia, the innkeeper's niece. While the students are celebrating Lydia's birthday, the opera singer Julia Stella arrives at the inn - and Balduin's life begins to unravel. He is immediately infatuated with the glamorous singer - but she is already kept by an admirer, the wealthy and foppish Baron Waldis. How can a poor student hope to compete? The mysterious Dr. Carpis, who also has ties to Julia and is jealous of the Baron, intervenes. But the price will be higher than Balduin can ever imagine. He risks his sanity and his life - perhaps his very soul - haunted by his own reflection. Written by
The 1935 version of Der Student von Prag appears to be a remake, though it is nothing of the sort. Whereas in the earlier silent versions the reflection in the mirror is the evil Doppelgänger of Balduin actively performing on its own, in this version the reflection is called "der Andere in uns/ the other one inside of us". Here the reflection appears only to Balduin himself reminding him of the fact that the powers he has been invested with by Dr Carpis have changed him for the worse. It is almost a philosophical discourse- and oddly one becoming prominent and eminent at exactly the time and far beyond- that is pictured, on the one hand there is the successful Balduin, the best swordsman in town and lucky player and lover, who is representing Das Sein in Heidegger's sense of the word, on the other hand there is the lack Balduin almost immediately senses and tries to communicate to Lydia, the need to reflect about one's actions and go beyond the mere being of Das Sein, a metaphysical need. Thus for me the ending is a happy one since Balduin regains his reflection, "der sentimentale Träumer/ the sentimental dreamer", though at a very dear price, and there is hardly any scene in any film that would to my mind exceed the beauty and grace of this final scene, wonderfully performed by Anton Walbrook.
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