The thwarted loves of Jean Cocteau and Raymond Radiguet, in the early 1920s. The death of Radiguet who did Cocteau sink in opium. A story under the influence of drug. A narrative description in the mind of Cocteau. A musical.
Extremely rare work of Robert Wiene. From the director and year of excellent "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" this work was eventually overshadowed by the success of Caligari. It has a dreamy atmosphere, like another world or something.
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski,
Siegfried Kracauer - who hit thirty the year this film came out - was able personally to recall the release of this film, "which ran in an expensive Berlin movie theater with the house sold out for three weeks. Of course, one avoided being seen on such occasions"!
With prescription of addictive opiates currently causing a panic in Britain it's timely to see again this dire warning against the perils of opium a hundred years on; restored to its former glory with magnificent tinting, handsome exteriors and an involved plot starting in China and concluding in Europe.
With so much going on the plot thread involving opium is easy to lose track of, and director Robert Reinert is for the most part content to let his cast mug to the camera (Werner Krauss both looks and acts like Moore Marriott as the leering Chinese villain Nung-Tschang, who keeps magically popping up whenever the action relocates) and let the plushness of the production take care of itself. (There are a couple of interesting camera tricks that anticipate 'Vertigo' but Reinert more often favours scenes of Satan cavorting with nymphs to create the atmosphere he's after!)
Although he (eventually) makes an impressive entrance, Conrad Veidt isn't actually in the film for very long, and the cast member who makes the most sympathetic impression is probably doe-eyed Sybill Morel in a double role as mother and daughter.
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