The Loves of Pharaoh (1922) Poster

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It's hard to adequately judge the quality of this film, as large sections still are missing.
MartinHafer22 July 2013
It is very difficult to adequately judge "The Loves of a Pharaoh" today. Most of this is because the film has been pieced together--much like a jigsaw puzzle that is still missing a few pieces. While the restored film is better than the insane re-creation of "London After Midnight" (where NONE of the original film exists and it is basically just a slide show with intertitle cards to fill in the gaps), it still isn't exactly complete. About a half dozen times during "The Loves of Pharaoh", scenes are missing and intertitle cards and stills are employed. Because of this, I am choosing not to give a numerical score for the film.

The story is set in ancient Egypt and I'd sure love to know exactly where it was filmed. According to IMDb, it was filmed in Berlin--but what about the desert scenes with huge dunes--they sure don't look like Berlin!

It begins with the king of Ethiopia pledging his daughter to the Pharaoh in order to cement an alliance. However, soon after, the Ethiopian princess' slave, Theonis, is spirited away by the rather dumb Ramphis. When Ramphis and Theonis are caught hiding in the Pharaoh's treasury, they are sentenced to death. But, inexplicably, the Pharaoh is so smitten with Theonis that he agrees to instead send Ramphis to work as a slave and marries Theonis. Considering he doesn't know this woman at all AND marrying her would bring on a war with Ethiopia, Pharaoh's behaviors seem irrational and silly. Just what happens next? See this epic silent and find out for yourself.

While the acting and style of the film is rather dated (even compared to other silents), the film is still rather impressive. It features a huge cast, terrific sets and lots of nice costumes. So, while the story is very weak and overly melodramatic, the overall look of the film is nice. Director Ernst Lubitsch clearly created an spectacle here--albeit one with a plot that needed a re-write as much of it just made little sense. Worth seeing once and a chance to see Oscar-winning Emil Jannings in an early film role as the Pharaoh.
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Great Action Scenes Make Film
Michael_Elliott28 December 2012
The Loves of Pharaoh (1922)

*** (out of 4)

Imressive German epic from Ernst Lubitsch about the war that breaks out when an Ethiopian King (Paul Wegener) offers his daughter to a Pharaoh (Emil Jannings) but she then falls his love with one of his servants. THE LOVES OF PHARAOH is a very impressive silent thanks in large part to the wonderful visuals and mammoth sets, which certainly make this rank right up there with the work that D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille were doing around this same time. I think the most impressive thing is how massive the sets are and how many extras were used during the battle sequences. There are some moments here that make you want to pause the film just so you can get a better look of everything that's going on. The greatest sequence comes towards the end of the picture when we see a giant hill where the camera is pointing straight at it. The action then starts and you see hundreds of people at the bottom of the hill fighting with hundreds more coming from over the hill, down in and into the battle. These scenes are just so big that you can't help but wonder how long it must have taken just to get one shot. The performances are another major plus with Jannings doing an excellent job with the villain. I thought he was extremely believable in the part and he never goes overboard with his madness. I also really enjoyed seeing Wegener here as the "look" from THE GOLEM is still here. Lubitsch does a masterful job at building up all the action but I think the film's one flaw is the screenplay. I never really cared about any of the characters and I found the story to be a tad bit too dull for its own good. Several portions of the film are still missing so photos are put in the missing segments place.
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4/10
Old German silent film set in ancient Egypt
Horst_In_Translation9 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Das Weib des Pharao" or "The Loves of Pharaoh" is a German movie from 1922, so this one will soon have its 100th anniversary already, only slightly over five years to go. The director is early German filmmaking legend Ernst Lubitsch and he was around the age of 30 when he made this one, long before his Hollywood success. The writers are Norbert Falk and Lubitsch's longtime collaborator Hanns Kräly (later an Oscar winner even, something Lubitsch himself never achieved). But back to this one here. Given the year, it should not be a surprise to anybody that this 100-minute movie is a black-and-white silent film. And as with some other early films from Germany, it takes us into a world and culture that is fairly different compared to ours, especially compared to the fairly bleak years between World War I and the Nazis' rise to power here in Germany.

Egypt is the center of the action here and like with many other early silent films, it is a mix of drama, costumes and romance as well. Horror is non-existent in here and neither is comedy. The cast includes a handful of fairly successful silent film actors from back then, not just Emil Jannings, but also Harry Liedtke and Paul Wegener for example and if you have an interest in German movies from that time, then you will see more than just one or two familiar faces. I myself have never been that big really on these very old silent films and sadly this one here cannot change my perception. As many other times, I also felt that it lacks intertitles on many occasions, so that the actual story is fairly difficult to follow at times and the plot not too easy to understand. Still, if you like the genre more than I do and maybe even care about films set in ancient Egypt, then this can be a pretty rewarding watch for your and I would not totally say that I don't recommend it to anybody. However, if this description does not fit you, then maybe it is best to stay away or check out comes other silent films from the 1920s first (more known ones like "Metropolis" or other Fritz Lang works) before deciding to give this one a go. I give it a thumbs-down.
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7/10
Epic Lubitsch
wes-connors13 December 2012
As he is erecting a new treasury building in ancient Egypt, iron-fisted Pharaoh Emil Jannings (as Amenes) receives an offer of a pact with wild-haired rival Paul Wegener (as Samlak). The Ethiopian king brings along his desirable light-skinned daughter to offer as a wife for Mr. Jannings. Instead, Jannings is smitten with demure Greek slave girl Dagny Servaes (as Theonis), who has escaped from Mr. Wegener and his jealous daughter Lyda Salmonova (as Makeda). Later, Jannings catches Ms. Servaes smooching with stout Harry Liedtke (as Ramphis), the treasury building worker who snatched her off the shores of the river Nile...

Jannings is so madly in love with Servaes, he spares Mr. Liedtke a death sentence in order to win Servaes' hand. You can safely predict Liedtke seeks out his lost lover. Meanwhile, Wegener is miffed at Jannings for rejecting his daughter and understandably irate when he discovers their missing Greek slave girl has taken her place in the palace. You can safely predict this means war...

This silent epic led Ernst Lubitsch's entry into Hollywood, where his films, particularly those with Pola Negri, were wildly popular. The director had a stunningly successful career. Partly preserved silent films by renowned directors are often declared lost masterpieces. Like many, this film does not live up to those lofty description, but it is still an excellent spectacle. It's also incredibly restored. There are reportedly only about ten minutes missing, with stills and title cards filling in the blanks. The bulk of the film appears to have been digitally restored to pristine condition, by Thomas Bakels and his crew. Art/set direction is outstanding.

******* Das Weib des Pharao (2/21/22) Ernst Lubitsch ~ Emil Jannings, Dagny Servaes, Harry Liedtke, Paul Wegener
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9/10
Fascinating Egyptian epic
I viewed an incomplete print of 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' that was reconstructed (from several sources) by Stephan Droessler of the Film Museum in Munich. Even in remnant form, this is a phenomenal film: an epic piece of film-making, with 6,000 extras and elaborate sets. 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' is the nearest Ernst Lubitsch came to making a film like 'Metropolis'.

'The Wife of the Pharaoh' was released in 1922, the same year that Englishman Howard Carter unsealed Tutankhamen's tomb ... but at this time, much of the most important work in Egyptology was being done by Germans, and German interest in ancient Egypt was high indeed. This film is set in dynastic Egypt (Middle Kingdom, by the look of it) ... and the sets, costumes and props are vastly more convincing than anything done by Hollywood in this same era in films such as 'King of Kings', "Noah's Ark" and the Babylonian sequences of 'Intolerance'.

There are of course a few errors in this movie: the elaborate Double Crown symbolising the two kingdoms of Egypt is the proper size and shape, yet the actors heft it about so easily that it's clearly a prop made from some improbably light substance. The pharaoh receives papyrus scrolls bearing messages written in hieroglyphics; this is wrong (the messages would have been written in hieratic, and the king would probably require a scribe to read them on his behalf), yet somebody made a commendable effort to use the proper hieroglyphics ... which is more than Universal Studios bothered to do in any of those 1930s mummy flicks.

Emil Jannings gives an operatic performance as the (fictional) king Amenes. The king of the Ethiopians (Paul Wegener), hoping to make peace with Egypt, offers his daughter Theonis to become the wife of Amenes.

But Theonis falls in love with Ramphis, the handsome son of the king's adviser Sothis. (Ramphis wears a hairdo stolen from Prince Valiant: one of the few really ludicrous errors in this film.) Amenes sentences the lovers to death, then offers to spare Ramphis from execution (sentencing him to hard labour for life) if Theonis will consent to love only Amenes.

There are some truly spectacular scenes in this film, very impressive even in the partial form which I viewed. Paul Wegener gives a fine performance as Samlak, king of the Ethiopians, but he looks like he escaped from a minstrel show: to portray an Ethiopian, Wegener wears blackface and body make-up, and a truly terrible Afro wig. And since his daughter Theonis is presumably also an Ethiopian, why is she white?

There are fine performances by Lyda Salmonova as a (white) Ethiopian slave-girl (the nearest equivalent to Aida in this operatic story) and by Albert Bassermann as the adviser who is spitefully blinded at the pharaoh's order. Theodor Sparkuhl's camera work is superlative, as always, and the art direction is brilliant. Although I viewed only an incomplete version of this film, I've read a surviving screenplay; the script (with some lapses in logic) is definitely the most ridiculous part of this film. But the favourable aspects of this movie very definitely outweigh its flaws. I'll rate 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' 9 out of 10.
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Emil Jannings and Dagny Servaes Are Great
drednm27 January 2013
Massive and brilliant restoration of this once-lost film is cause to celebrate. This 1922 epic directed by Ernst Lubitsch boasts massive Egyptian sets, great costumes, a brilliant music score and several great performances.

Twisting plot entwines the lives of Pharoah Amenes (Emil Jannings), a Greek slave girl Theonis (Dagny Servaes), a hero Ramphis (Harry Liedtke), and a vicious Ethiopian king (Paul Wegener).

After Ramphis steals Theonis from the Ethiopian princess (Lyda Salmonova)and returns to Egypt, the Pharaoh spies her and instantly falls in love. But he's already promised to return the slave girl to the Ethiopian king. Pharaoh takes the woman, but she loves Ramphis. After the lovers are caught in the treasury, Pharaoh condemns Ramphis to slave work in the quarries. But Pharaoh does not return Theonis, so the Ethiopians start a war.

Before he goes off to war, Pharaoh walls up Theonis in the treasury and blinds the architect (Albert Bassermann) so no one will find the entrance. Amenes is presumed killed in battle and Theonis, technically Queen of Egypt gets to pick a new Pharaoh and she picks Ramphis. But Amenes is not dead and soon returns to Egypt to find a new Pharaoh installed.

Serpentine plot keeps the viewer guessing as the main characters are all bound up in various promises and oaths and star-crossed loves, and no one gets what he wants.

Emil Jannings and Dagny Servaes are terrific. While the rest of the cast overacts, it seems fitting for such a sprawling story set against massive Egyptian sets.

The restoration of this film ranks among the great restoration projects, and the final result, despite some missing sections, is absolutely amazing. Well worth looking for.
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7/10
Lubitsch's Final German Film
springfieldrental31 October 2021
German director Ernst Lubitsch was becoming well known in the United States for his long line of highly successful and greatly praised comedy of manners movies. These, plus a few more serious later contemporary films he directed, interested several financiers who wanted him to produce a high-budgeted film that American audiences would be interested in. Departing from his usual comedies, Lubitsch decided to show his diversity in cinema by producing an ancient Egyptian spectacle, February 1922's "The Loves of Pharaoh." The subject matter was popular on the continent at the time since explorations of ancient pharaoh tombs were producing historic archaeological discoveries, including King Tutankhamun's burial chamber later in the year. Lubitsch also figured that great ancient spectaculars were popular with American audiences, so he narrowed his production to that era.

The plot of two lovers caught between a pharaoh who loves the woman and an Ethiopian king who doesn't want to give up the woman as his personal slave, contains the most believable lavish Egyptian sets witnessed in cinema yet as well as a great number of extras. Consciously, Lubitsch not only wanted to show American studios he was capable of producing sophisticated films, but with the turmoil in his native country after the Great War and its limited finacial resources, his desire to immigrate to the United States was strong.

The director soon received an offer he couldn't refuse: Mary Pickford wanted him to direct her next movie. He immediately bought a one-way ticket on an ocean liner and sailed to Hollywood, to never look back. Consequently, "The Loves of Pharaoh" was the last German film Lubitsch ever directed.
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A "Kolossal" Picture With Intimate Melodrama
FerdinandVonGalitzien7 October 2011
"Das Weib Des Pharao" (1922) has been one of the most anticipated silent film restorations released in this modernen year. September saw the long awaited premiere of the film which was superbly restored thanks to the efforts of different European institutions. This little known Herr Ernst Lubitsch movie of his German period is now available to the joy of silent film fans around the world.

"Das Weib Des Pharao" was the last film directed by Herr Lubitsch before he departed to Amerika where his career was very different in terms of artistic style and goals. Certainly "Das Weib Des Pharao" is characteristic of his work during his Teutonic epoch.

First of all, the film is "kolossal": magnificent décors, lavish and gorgeous costumes, crowd scenes astonishing in the number of extras employed. This huge production and Herr Lubitsch's mastery transports the audience back to ancient Egypt.

But "Das Weib Des Pharao", spectacular art direction and staging notwithstanding, is also a tormented love story, intimate and nuanced and combining seamlessly with the more spectacular dimension of the plot, the war between the king of Ethiopia Herr Samlak ( Herr Paul Wegener ) and the pharaoh Herr Amenes ( Herr Emil Jannings ). The conflict begins when the king of Ethiopia invades Egypt because his daughter, Frau Makeda ( Frau Lyda Salmonova ) has been rejected by Herr Amenes due to his infatuation with Frau Theonis (Frau Dagny Servaies), namely slave of Frau Makeda. To complicate matters, Theonis is in love with Herr Ramphis (Herr Harry Liedtke). Theonis, against her will, becomes the Queen of Egypt. Tragedy follows for all.

This Herr Von was absolutely fascinated during the scenes between the pharaoh Amenes and the beautiful slave Theonis; Jannings' restrained performance shows all the pain and longing of unrequited love as he vainly tries to win her favour. Some of the scenes are in lovely chiaroscuro; the cinematography by Herr Alfred Hansen und Herr Theodor Sparkhul is brilliant.

"Das Weib Des Pharao" is for this German count a very special Lubistch oeuvre, combining the characteristics of a "kolossal" picture with intimate melodrama. None of the Lubitsch wit is on hand and there is certainly no humor in the film to lighten the story. It remains serious all the way through and is without concessions, making it a very unique Lubitsch film whose rediscovery is a great gift to lovers of the Silent Era.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has an appointment with his beautiful Teutonic slave instead of one of his fat German heiresses.
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7/10
A Luscious Restoration with a Breathtaking Score
audiemurph14 December 2012
The fabulous restoration of this film alone makes it worth viewing. The pictures are glossy and luscious as to be almost magical. It makes you realize that even though the movies were still silent in the 1920's, the quality of the film was first rate.

Also extremely noteworthy of the version recently shown on TCM is the spectacular orchestral score, really one of the best. Try to actively listen to the music if you can from time to time - especially in the late battle scenes, it is worthy of Wagner.

The sets are over the top, and the cast begins as a cast of dozens, then scores, then hundreds, and then literally thousands as the climactic battle scenes are reached. The Germans really outdid themselves here, easily matching the Hollywood spectacles of the same era. With great skill, director Ernst Lubitcsh was able to interweave outlandish spectacle with a lot of close-up tragedy, perhaps having learned this technique from watching D.W. Griffith fliks.

Unfortunately, the exaggerated emotive acting is a little painful to watch at times. This is the kind of over-acting histrionics that would be mocked by some for many years after the advent of sound.

The plot occasionally borders a bit on the unbelievable as well. I think the silliest thing was when, early in the film, the pharaoh is about to sign a peace treaty with the Ethiopians, when suddenly he is informed that someone is "approaching" the Treasury! In great shock, the king abandons the ceremony to deal with this incredible event personally! This would be like President Roosevelt walking out on the Yalta Conference in order to deal with a dog that had piddled in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. Silly indeed.

The actor playing the hero "Ramphes" may also have the ugliest haircut in the history of serious film.

But these are minor distractions. "The Loves of Pharaoh" is art, and it is movie history, and the glorious restoration makes it well worth viewing.
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8/10
THE LOVES OF PHAROAH Stunning Reminder of Lubitsch's Masterly Handling of the Epic
creightonhale16 December 2012
TCM presented a beautiful print of Ernst Lubitsch's Egyptian epic THE LOVES OF PHAROAH (1922). Released by Paramount in the US, the film was Lubitsch's last feature in his home country of Germany before setting up camp in Hollywood. (That's another story all together.) The "Lubitsch Touch" in his historically-based epics, such as CARMEN, MADAME DUBARRY, SUMURUN, or ANNA BOLEYN, is the director's ability to present us with the overwhelming sight of the plight of the crowd and then gradually direct our attention to a personal drama taking place within the epic sweep of time and destiny. (He does so more genuinely than DeMille, who seemed to have imitated this approach.) Then, of course,there are the sexual situations, the uncontrollable attractions, and the inevitable rejections that determine the fates of the characters, a theme continued into the director's sophisticated comedies and, later, witty musicals that followed this film. LOVES OF PHAROAH has stunning visual moments both large and small: the crowds working, revolting, being manipulated by rulers to the turning of Emil Jannings to a wall and dropping an outstretched hand, showing his reluctant realization of the futility of his affections. The film is deliberately paced but never draggy. Though there are moments of regret (the depiction of the Ethiopians is particularly stereotyped and inconsistent), this foray into Arabian exotica is a dramatic improvement over the stilted presentations seen in SUMURUN from a couple of years before. With THE LOVES OF PHAROAH, Lubitsch reaches the apex of his epic years (though THE PATRIOT may have reached greater heights, though we'll never know until a print is found).
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