Sog.: dalla sceneggiatura Die Sieger di Harriet Bloch; Scen.: Carl Meyer; F.: Max Lutze; Scgf.: Heinrich Richter; Int.: Erna Morena (Helen Boerne), Olaf Fönss (Dr. Eigil Boerne), Conrad Veidt (un pittore), Gudrun Bruun-Steffensen (Lily, una danzatrice), Clementine Plessner; Prod.: Goron Films (Berlino); Pri. pro.: 13 dicembre 1920
35mm. L.: 1735 m. D.: 95′ a 16 f/s
This long film is intelligent the entire way through. The teachings of American film have been learned and assimilated. It is nice to see a film where there is more concern for the general course and rhythm than useless but pretty detail. I was struck especially by the use of close ups: it is never used in vain, always happens in the right moment with the right movement.
Olaf Fönss and Conrad Veidt are interesting but do “theater.”
Erna Morena is remarkable in the most compelling part of the film: a terrible storm lashes out over the countryside and in the sea, and while the hurricane beats down on the house, the trembling, lone woman feels a different, no less violent storm within.
It is a kind of three-hundred meter monologue with admirable energy. The accessories (sets, furniture, clothing etc.) are accurate and vivid. And Erna Morena has that unsettling quality needed to lead us through this quarter of an hour of anxiety, nervous drunkenness, near madness.
Louis Delluc, Cinéa-Ciné pour tous, 1921
This drama brings to mind the best of what we read when we were young; it invites the memory of an Ibsen drama staged by Brahm, of a work by Chekhov produced by Stanislavsky. Obligatory cross-references. What did those young readings leave behind in us? Musical sensations, the vague sound of a beautiful, spontaneous melody that seemed to surge from deep within us. And what is there of this in this film? Something mostly musical, the image of a man and a woman at the beginning of their love story, seated one in front of the other with a cup of tea, who breathe deeply and slowly the sweet air in the gas-lamp illuminated room, while outside it rains and the wind blows; or a later moment in which he kisses her hand and she lets herself go widening her arms; or the image of the other, the abandoned bride, who lies on a flower print couch, tired, sick and sad for everything she had to give up, and pulls out a newspaper clipping about her husband from under a pillow. Or the image of the doctor who passes by the blind man, yelling, “I killed your wife!” while the other does not move, his face hardened with pain. (…) The screenplay written by Carl Mayer is the work of a poet. (…) It is incredible how he knows how to move quickly, without taking a break; sometimes a few hints are all he needs, other times he lingers like in the scene in which the lights of the car slide across the wet asphalt of a large city bathed in the night or when the sea is stormy. (…) Murnau’s directing? When talking about the qualities of the film, his directing was always in our mind… It is all his doing, and there is nothing else to add.
Willy Haas, “Film-Kurier”, December 14, 1920