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Carl Theodor Dreyer
Tormented Souls Living Their Lives In A Tormented Country.
Films in one way or another are influenced by what's going on in the world around them; cultural styles, artistic modes or social or political situations that shape the final conception of the work and reveal the artist's intentions.
"Nerven", directed by Herr Robert Reinert, is a good example of what this German count is talking about; filmed during the silent year of 1919, that is to say, at the end of the WWI and during very complicated times for old Germany; the defeated country rapidly gave birth to the Weimar republic, a young democracy that will suffer many continuous social and political conflicts during its short existence. This was also a time in which the Arts flourished ( German Expressionism was born during that time ), so consequently the decadent and tormented plot of Herr Reinert's "Nerven" was influenced by the end of the WWI context and the political and social conflicts that immediately followed. The story depicts a confuse which is transferred to the private lives of the main characters.
It must be said that in spite his short career, Herr Robert Reinert directed such bizarre films as "Opium" and was scriptwriter of Herr Otto Rippert's six part fantasy film, "Homunculus" (1916), strange plots for unconventional films. This is also true for "Nerven" a film about sex, politics and religion, three subjects that can't be mentioned in any elegant aristocratic soirée if you want to be polite and respectful to your guests
The films tells the political disputes of an ultraconservative factory owner Herr Roloff and Teacher John, who feels a compulsive but secret love for Roloff's sister, a left-wing radical. They are all driven psychologically and morally to the borderline, tormented souls living their lives in a tormented country.
The film has Expressionist touches ( mainly in the performance and the decadent atmosphere ) and a depurate technique emphasizing allegorical touches. There are disturbing images relating to metaphysics and philosophy, an interpretation of the social problems born after the end of WWI. The sick society is challenged by revolutionary ideals but there are oneiric images full of hope at the end of the film where a peaceful utopia is glimpsed.
It is always a pleasure to rescue from oblivion these great and unknown silent films as the youngsters at the "Filmmuseum" have done; although one third of the film was lost, they put together successfully nitrates from different silent archives around the world, beautifully restoring and tinting such an important archaeological find for German film. Even this decadent German count must sing their praises.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must avoid a nervous breakdown.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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