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Michael (1924)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 17 November 1924 (Denmark)
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Triangle story: painter, his young male model, unscrupulous princess.

Director:

Carl Theodor Dreyer (as Carl-Th. Dreyer)

Writers:

Herman Bang (based on the novel of the same name by), Thea von Harbou (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Walter Slezak ... Michael
Max Auzinger Max Auzinger ... Jules - Majordomo
Nora Gregor ... Princess Lucia Zamikoff
Robert Garrison Robert Garrison ... Charles Switt - Journalist
Benjamin Christensen ... Claude Zoret
Didier Aslan Didier Aslan ... Duc de Monthieu
Alexander Murski Alexander Murski ... Mr. Adelsskjold
Grete Mosheim ... Mrs. Alice Adelsskjold
Karl Freund ... LeBlanc - Art Dealer
Wilhelmine Sandrock Wilhelmine Sandrock ... Widow de Monthieu
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Storyline

Mikaël is an artist who rises as his teacher, the aging Zoret, falls. Zoret gives Mikaël his start, and their relationship is sexual as well. Then Mikaël takes up with the Princess Zamikoff, selling gifts from Zoret and even stealing from the master to pay for his carnal and luxurious life with her. He abandons Zoret, whose health begins to fail but who also discovers spirituality in his solitude. In a subplot, Alice Adelsskjold cuckolds her husband and takes a lover, the Duke of Monthieu; their relationship, infused with the eroticism of art, also gives way to religion as the duke becomes ill. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

princess | artist | model | painter | gay | See All (28) »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Release Date:

17 November 1924 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Michael See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universum Film (UFA) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2004 alternate) |

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When the painter Claude Zoret is talking to Mikael's creditor he switches from standing up to sitting down back to standing up between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Motto (titlecard): Motto: Now I can die in peace for I have known a great love.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2004, Kino International Corporation copyrighted a version with a piano score compiled and performed by Neal Kurz. It was produced for video by David Shepard and runs 86 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A May-December romance in decline
4 December 1999 | by VarlaamSee all my reviews

This is an early film on a homosexual theme: older painter, and younger, prettier model and developing artist. This happens to have been the preferred arrangement in the ancient world as well.

(I will note at this moment that this aspect of the film did not hold a great deal of personal interest for me; my eye was drawn more to the heaving bosom of one of the noblewomen.)

The theme is handled quite discreetly. Could contemporary audiences have missed it entirely? But the film would have had no point then. This presumed relationship is conveyed mostly through glances and tone, plus one more explicit statement at the end.

Since the model is also the painter's adopted son, much of the drama takes the form of parent vs. petulant, ungrateful offspring -- more traditional subject matter in other words. The son takes up with a pretty princess, disappointing his father.

Some of the character definition is unusual. The father smokes a pipe with a very long stem, like Bilbo Baggins or some other hobbit. An artist's affectation? The son has a sensitive side; he's a big fan of Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in "The Kid" (1921). Blatant movie references are very common now, but it's really strange to see one in 1924.

I referred to the Graeco-Roman world earlier. If there are any classical analogies at work here, then this is a Jupiter-Ganymede story where Ganymede runs off with one of Io, Europa, or Callisto. Officially Ganymede was Jupiter's cupbearer, and this film has a recurrent leitmotif involving a set of English glasses. Coincidence? But I think I am seeing subtext when there really isn't any. Perhaps there were mythological strands running through the original novel.

I personally found this scenario to be fairly overwrought and uninvolving. However there is a very fine performance by Benjamin Christensen as the painter, plus simply stand-out photography and set decoration. These upper-class rooms are even more finely appointed than the ones in "Mockery", directed by Christensen in 1927, and that was an MGM production. Overall credit is due to director Carl Dreyer for the film's virtues.

The print which was shown at Cinematheque Ontario is part of a touring Christensen retrospective which had played in September at MOMA in New York. The booklet produced for the New York screenings is a very good one, "Benjamin Christensen: An International Dane" edited by Jytte Jensen.

The film itself was actually entitled "Michael" and had intertitles in German. The original novelist I'm sure was billed as Hermann Bong [sic], rather than Herman Bang, while the young lovers were called (Eugene) Michael and Princess Zamikow rather than Mikaël and Zamikoff.


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