His girlfriend turned invisible, so he stopped seeing her.
'The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz' is a television drama based on a story of the same name by Jules Verne ... or maybe not, according to some Verne purists. The story was first published in 1910, five years after Verne's death, in an anthology titled (in French) 'Yesterday and Tomorrow', edited by Verne's son Michel. Allegedly, all the stories in this book were written by Jules Verne, so why were they never published in his lifetime? It's known that Verne fils did some editing to his father's manuscripts, and there is evidence that he also did substantial completion of stories left unfinished at Verne père's death.
So, 'Wilhelm Storitz' is impure Verne at best. Fortunately, it's an interesting story (in some ways quite typical of Jules Verne) and this tele-version is an entertaining adaptation of the original ... oddly changing a few characters' names and making a few other arbitrary deviations from the source. I've read Verne's (or his son's) story in French, having been unable to locate an English translation. This synopsis reflects the 1967 TV adaptation, rather than the 1910 story.
Wilhelm Storitz is a Prussian chemist living in southern Hungary. His father (now deceased) was a chemist as well. Storitz is rather an obsessive individual, and an outsider. He and his laboratory assistant Denis have the traditional mad-scientist and toady-assistant relationship, except that Denis isn't a hunchback.
Storitz is strongly attracted to the beautiful young Magyar woman Martha Roederich. He claims to be in love with her, but from what we see here it seems to be sexual attraction. As the setting for this story is 19th-century Europe, Storitz naturally approaches Martha's parents for her hand in marriage. Martha's father is a colonel in the Hungarian army, so he firmly refuses to permit his daughter to marry a Prussian, due to the bad history between the two nations. As it happens, Martha has another beau, a young Frenchman named Marc-Antoine. Her parents approve of this relationship, and soon Martha and Marc-Antoine are betrothed.
Storitz vows revenge. (This is one reason why I accept this story as authentic Jules Verne; revenge was an ongoing theme throughout his works.) Among his father's lab notes, Storitz discovers the formula for a potion that confers invisibility. He mixes a draught of this and slips it to Martha. The next morning, when she awakens, she is invisible!
SPOILERS COMING. Storitz hints broadly that he (and he alone) can reverse the invisibility, and that the price for this will be Martha's hand in marriage. (But her hand is invisible!) Martha refuses to submit to blackmail. Marc-Antoine vows that he loves her despite her invisibility, and the two marry. Much is made of Marc-Antoine's 'sacrifice' in marrying a woman who is doomed to lifelong invisibility, but surely there are advantages to having an invisible wife.
The chief of police, hoping to force the secret of re-visibility out of Storitz's assistant, tries to arrest Denis. (And charge him with what, precisely? Invisibility without consent?) Denis dies in an accident fleeing the police. Then the gendarmes arrest Storitz, who is killed resisting arrest. The secret of the invisibility formula dies with him. Despite her invisibility, Martha is happy in her marriage to Marc-Antoine. There is a happy ending: Martha gives birth to a baby boy, and the biological changes caused by the pregnancy restore her visibility.
Regrettably, this low-budget production never delves into the consequences of invisibility. When the invisible Martha became pregnant by her husband, was the foetus visible in midair? If her child had been a girl instead of a boy, would this still have reversed the invisibility? When invisible Martha eats, does the food remain visible within her body? None of this is addressed. The invisibility effect is achieved with a low-budget bluescreen process, and this results in the usual defects in the on screen image (haloing, iridescence) when that process is used badly, as it so often is. I'll rate this slow-paced production 5 out of 10.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?