Tannhäuser (1913) Poster


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Follows the story of the opera fairly well
deickemeyer6 October 2017
A three-reel production, following the story of the opera fairly well. Though carefully costumed, the chorus was too large to appear to the best advantage in the opening scenes, as it had a rather huddled effect. The woodland scenes were striking and attractive, but some of the barefooted nymphs were rather scantily clothed and not as young and slender as might have been expected. Marguerite Snow appeared as Princess Elizabeth, Florence LaBadie as Venus, James Cruze as Tannhauser and William Russell as Wolfram. The production holds the interest and should succeed very well, accompanied by the well known Tannhauser music. - The Moving Picture World, July 26, 1913
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Silent Operas
Cineanalyst24 September 2009
I don't care for opera; regardless, opera is undeniably worse when adapted to the silent screen. (Two adaptations of "Carmen" and one of "Assunta Spina" (1915) come to mind, as well.) Mostly, we're just left with whatever the ludicrous plot was. In this three-reeler, "Tannhäuser", there is, of course, a tragic, melodramatic romance. There's also some Catholic moralizing. It also doesn't help that the filmmakers use the tableau style wherein title cards describe proceeding actions. The camera-work and staging is very static; there's one match on action close-up that stands out as otherwise an example of too advanced film techniques for these filmmakers to use. There's double-exposure photography with dissolves for appearances and disappearances during the Venus episodes.

The Venus episode is the best part—the film really suffers after it. There's an awfully enacted and confusing sword fight, and the rest of the film, as aforementioned, is just bad romantic tragedy and Catholic morals. There are better early films available to see, and I suppose there are superior means to view this opera.

(Note: The DVD print features reconstructed tinting based on those originally intended.)
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