A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kameradschaft (G.W. Pabst, 1931)

A Swedish poster for Kameradschaft
A film made in 1931 about a rapprochement between the French and the Germans seems naïve perhaps only with the benefit (if you can call it that) of hindsight. Pabst's Kameradschaft was also released with the French title La Tragédie de la mine, and the dialogue oscillates between German and French. It's less a plea for political unity than for a comradeship of workers, united against the forces that exploit them. A fire and explosion on the French side of a coal mine that extends beneath the border between France and Germany traps a number of French miners. Hearing of this, a German miner named Wittkopp (Ernst Busch), urges his fellow miners and his bosses to put together a rescue team to help the trapped Frenchmen. They wind up being hailed as heroes by the French, though the speeches at the end of the film are a bit heavy-handed. Like most successful mine-rescue movies, this one depends on well-drawn characters, exciting action and convincing sets. The characters were created by Ladislaus Vajda and Peter Martin Lampel from a story by Karl Otten, based on an actual disaster along the Franco-German border in 1906. Pabst's direction, aided by skillful editing by Jean Oser and Marc Sorkin, keeps things suspenseful and coherent. But perhaps the greatest contribution comes from production designers Ernö Metzner and Karl Vollbrecht, whose sets, constructed in the studio, have a claustrophobic reality. The cinematography of Fritz Arno Wagner and Robert Baberske adds to the illusion.

No comments: