I am quickly becoming a fan of Pola Negri after seeing four of her films. "The Way Of Lost Souls" (1929) was the 2nd silent film of Pola's I saw, after the compelling and funny "A Woman Of The World (1925). I do think the other title "The Woman He Scorned" is actually a better title for this film, because the lighthouse guard who marries Pola truly scorns and pities her in the beginning, but marries her anyway, because he promises God to save the "unfortunate" if he is saved in a shipwreck. How kind of him.
I saw the DVD version put out by Grapevine before they went out of business. This DVD version has replaced English subtitles, but the beginning credits are in French. The music soundtrack, with Pola singing at one point, seemed out of sync many times and the sound of the projector kept interfering with the music, but otherwise the two main musical themes in the soundtrack were quite haunting and appropriate.
Pola just keeps you engrossed in this film with her fascinating performance. She definitely had a screen presence that few other actresses had; here she just draws you in to her world, and you are completely mesmerized. She plays a fallen woman trying to go straight, but she has the misfortune of falling for the too puritan lighthouse guard, played convincingly by German actor Hans Rehmann, and he eventually ends up - figuratively - stabbing her in the back. Moral for women: never fall in love with somebody who prides himself on being loftier than you and other people around him.
This film was beautifully photographed. I loved the moment when Pola stares in the mirror and tries to improve her looks by cleaning her face and playing around with a pretty scarf, until she finally likes what she sees in the reflection. All women can relate to that moment. And the moment when she wakes up after her marriage night and touches her husband's pillow tenderly, indicating subtly what transpired the night before. Today a romance movie isn't considered complete unless they show couples writhing around, chewing on each others' faces. Completely disgusting and immoral. The old films were wonderful; they left it all to your imagination, with little tender moments like that pillow scene.
I enjoyed the film and give it a 9 out of 10.
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