A BÁNYA TITKA II: A Gonosztevöt Leleplezik

Ödön Uher Jr.

T. alt.: A földalatti próféta. Sog.: dal romanzo White Walls di Max Pemberton. Scen.: Ödön Uher Jr., Ede Sas. F.: Ödön Uher Jr. Int.: Mea Melitta [Dömötör Kató] (contessa Éva Erlach), Emil Fenyő (Jura), Mari K. Demjén (Anna), Károly Lajthay (conte Rudolf), Ottó Torday (Lord Robertson), Ferenc Vendrey (lo zio di Eva), László Bakó (generale Wagner), Aladár Fenyő (Pietro Rizzi). Prod.: Uher Filmgyár Rt. 35mm. L.: 2828 m. D.: 73' a 18 f/s. Tinted and toned
T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The adaptation of Max Pemberton’s bestseller, White Walls, takes place in the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the first part, the Countess Éva Erlach, after leaving the girls’ boarding school in Vienna, takes over her inheritance, the Rabka mine in Galicia. Count Rudolf, director of the mine, is unwilling to lose control and instigates a rebellion of miners against Éva. The sequences of the revolt, the fearful crowd shaking their fists, and the burning castle evoke the revolutionary days when the film was shot. Éva is saved from the fire by a mysterious young man, Jura, who turns out to be the real heir. After his father’s death he was deprived of his property and was brought up secretly in the depths of the mine by Anna, the witch. He lives in the eternal darkness where the oppressed and outcast people live. According to the reversed symbolism of the film, the world of light is evil’s realm: it is a constant threat to Jura, who longs for the light. Because Jura and Éva are attracted to each other, the young man is betrayed by his jealous former lover and locked up in a madhouse. Recurring visual elements of the film are the points where the two worlds meet, captured in complex shots with back-lighting, which visually unify the dark interior and the bright outer spaces, helped by centrally positioned doors, cave openings or windows. The consistent colour dramaturgy of the film emphasizes this contrast. The mining scenes are especially memorable, becoming dreamlike in combining iron blue tones and pink tints.

In the second part, Éva lives in Vienna in the Erlach palace after the Rabka castle has been burned to dust. She is in love with Jura and devotes herself to finding proof of his origins even though it conflicts with her own interests. Her friend, Lord Robertson, goes to Mostar to find the monk who saved Jura’s life when he was a child, hoping he has documents which certify Jura’s identity. But Count Rudolf’s agent Pietro Rizzi gets there first and steals the documents. Meanwhile, encouraged by Eva’s calling message, visualized by an image of her close up on the sea waves, Jura escapes from the madhouse. A skilful film trick shows him jumping from the tall bastion surrounded by the sea. After many difficulties, he finally reaches Erlach palace in Vienna. Jura, who was like a king in the darkness of the mine, is hesitant and passive in the world of the light. Everything is organized and arranged by Éva. But it seems her efforts fail untill Robertson buys the proof of Jura’s identity from Rizzi and Jura may occupy his legitimate heritage with Éva, his wife, at his side. Uher’s screenplay follows the plot of Pemberton’s novel with only a few minor exceptions, but partly for financial reasons and partly because of the restless political situation, the film wasn’t shot in the actual locations, but in Hungary. The scenes of the white-walled salt mine of Rabka were shot in the coal mine of Salgótarján, the Vienna scenes were filmed in Budapest. But the richness of the sets and the perfect application of the colour technology of the era compensate for all this.

Gyöngyi Balogh

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Restored by EYE Filmmuseum from a Dutch distribution print