403. Variete, 1925. Germany.
D. E. A. Dupont
I’ve read and seen clips of this for so long, I was desperate to see it. Perhaps a little too desperate. After being unable to find the full German version, and the shorter American version that I ordered from an online store being delivered broken, I gave in to excitement when I found it (an Italian version?) on Youtube. Oy.
The quality is beyond awful. There is no sound or musical accompaniment at all, just white noise and film crackle, which is hard to get used to in a film with so much dancing. It’s choppy. It’s not clean. It’s quite faded.
All that being said, I absolutely loved it. It conveys the electricity of the 1920’s better than anything I’ve ever seen, and the camera work is dizzying in the greatest possible way. Twirling and dancing and flying, kaleidoscope shots and brilliant superimpositions. Lya de Putti’s wide-eyed seduction. Emil Janning’s heavy-browed fury. I found it to be exhilarating from start to finish.
I’m glad I watched it, even in a pitiful state. I can’t wait to watch the full version. And would someone PLEASE restore and release this properly?! It’s a crime to leave it so.