After years travelling the world, Count Greven returns home with the art treasures he has collected. But his disposition has altered dramatically and he is a troubled man. Will he suffer ...
See full summary »
After years travelling the world, Count Greven returns home with the art treasures he has collected. But his disposition has altered dramatically and he is a troubled man. Will he suffer alone or can he be helped and freed from this malady?Written by
Though the German Expressionist movement in cinema officially began with THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919; coincidentally from the same director as the film under review), the country's first brush with the horror genre occurred in 1913 via THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (subsequently much-remade). The movies in this vein that emerged in between these two titles are not easily come by, so it was interesting to catch this obscure effort (which lasts for only 54 minutes!).
Actually, FEAR is now the fourth Wiene I have checked out after CALIGARI itself, RASKOLNIKOV aka CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (1923; as it happens, an American potboiler from 1946 based on the same Dostoyevsky source shared its title with the film under review!), and the 1924 version of THE HANDS OF ORLAC. For the record, I am also familiar with the compressed surviving version of the director's GENUINE: THE TALE OF A VAMPIRE (1920) and own but have yet to watch his DER ROSENKAVALIER (1925).
Anyway, the film's plot deals with a man haunted by a misdeed he has committed (his obsessive passion for rare objets d'art has driven him to make away with a statue from an Indian temple). In fact, the plot opens with the hero's arrival at his estate from abroad where he is already in an agitated state and orders his myriad servants to bar the entrances and exits! One of them, however, is worried by his master's paranoia and seeks advice from the town minister and the hero's former schoolteacher, who instantly realizes that what he needs is not a man of God but of Science! Soon after, he is visited by a mysterious man in Indian garb (a brief role for Conrad Veidt, later co-star of CALIGARI and protagonist of ORLAC) who prophesies that, in seven years' time, the man will meet his come-uppance by the hand of the one whom he loves most!
Somewhat relieved, the hero decides to live up the time allotted to him and begins to lead a hedonistic lifestyle which, however, he soon tires of, so he picks up medicine and apparently comes up with some astonishing discovery but which he promptly destroys at its much-publicized unveiling! So, as he often says, "on to something new" and, now, he falls in love and plans to marry but, since the 'contract' is about to expire, he soon grows morose and alienates his intended! At the appointed time, even if he had disposed of the statue in a river in a desperate attempt to break the spell (should he not have contrived to return it to the rightful owners if any hope of clemency was to be expected?), he is so nerve-wracked that he shoots himself suggesting that he had loved himself best of all! Soon after, Veidt reappears and picks up the statue not from the river-bed but rather from where the hero used to keep it, to which cabinet it had magically returned!
While the film's visuals are nowhere near as striking as Wiene's subsequent forays into outright Expressionism, the exaggerated acting style is evocative of them, since the protagonist shares the mental strain that affects the heroes of CALIGARI, RASKOLNIKOV and ORLAC – which can now be identified as something of a pattern within his work!; in the end, this is no lost classic but worth viewing nonetheless.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this