Wednesday, July 12, 2017

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2016) by Year - 0247 - LOVE ONE ANOTHER (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1922, Germany, 105m, BW)



(Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1922, Germany, 105m, BW)


LOVE ONE ANOTHER (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1922, Germany, 105m, BW)

Die Gezeichneten (1922)
1h 45min
7 February 1922 (Denmark)

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Writers: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Aage Madelung (novel)
Stars: Adele Reuter-Eichberg, Vladimir Gajdarov, Polina Piekowskaja


Based on the 1918 novel 'Elsker hverandre' by Aage Madelung, the film follows various lives, one of which is Jewish girl Hanne Liebe, as she grows up, and experiences the pains of living as a Jew in Russia, leading to a revolution.


"Die Gezeichneten" was the fourth film directed by the Danish Herr Carl Theodor Dreyer in the silent year of 1922; it is not a well-known film but has survived in different prints in four different silent archives around the silent world. The film was a German production and had the participation of many international actors ( including the Polish film director Herr Richard Boleslawski who would later have a career in Amerika ) although Herr Dreyer preferred Russian actors for the main characters of the film because he thought that they were better than the German actors.

While this is the first film directed by Dreyer in Germany, it has actually a very international nature because of its subject, antisemitism in Russia at the time of the 1905 aborted revolution, and of the fact that Dreyer himself, Aage Madelung, the author of the 1918 novel on which the film is based, as well as some of the actors were Danish, while other actors and many extras were Russians. The film actually got its première in Copenhagen before Berlin. While the English title is a literal translation of Aage Madelung's book,  Elsker hverandre, Love one Another, which is rather desperate wishful thinking when we see what happens in the book, Dreyer preferred to remind in his title which means literally The Stigmatised, how the Jews were treated in Russia, and he develops it in one of the first intertitles: 'This "people chosen by God", with a thousands of years old culture, wore on its head the mark of Cain set by Christ and prejudice.'

This film is a very striking example of the authenticity of silent films. The events it relates had happened only 16 years before the film was shot and Aage Madelung had directly experienced the pogroms he describes in his book when he lived in Russia, married to a Russian Jewish girl. In addition many of the extras used for the pogrom scenes were Jewish refugees who had fled Russia in 1905 to live in Germany. As the production company Primus film did not have its own studio, the film was around Berlin and in a reconstructed Russian village. But the film is not a docudrama. Apart from photos of Tsar Nicolas II and his wife, we don't see any historical  character, and the historical events are just the background to a tragic story centered on two characters: those are played by excellent actors coming from the theatre, Hanne-Liebe (Polina Piekowskaia), a young Jewish girl that we see victim of racial prejudice since her childhood, and Sasha (Thorleif Reiss) with whom she falls in love when she is still at school, an idealistic Russian who becomes a member of a revolutionary organisation. 

A big advancement also over the Finnish episode, is how Dreyer in Die Gezeichneten manages not to take any sides on behalf of a group: Even when the followers of the Czar are murdering the Jews it is clear that they are ordinary, simpleminded people led astray by a single political provocateur. The three parties involved, Jews, revolutionaries and czarists, all provide a mixed crowd of the good, the bad and the indifferent. Not forgetting the spies which mingle among the three. If there is any fault among these people, it is that they can all be led astray. This gives the film, for its time, a rare realistic feeling, even if the love interests, the fleeing Hanna and her revolutionary lover Sascha, are certainly catered for in the usually romantic, and at times overacted, manner. Since the book was published well before the 1917 revolution and the film of course after, we also get a complex issue concerning how the revolutionaries are portrayed. As they are young and idealistic, they immediately cause our positive interest.


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