T. it.: Il mandarino; Scen.: Paul Frank, Fritz Freisler; Int.: Karl Götz (barone von Stroom), Harry Walden, Gretel Ruth, Hilde Radnay, Trude Merly, Cornelia Haszay, Nectar Flondor; Prod.: Sascha Filmindustrie AG 35mm. L.: 1115 m. D.: 61’ a 16 f/s. Col. Virato / Toned.
A couple of years ago a silent film print was found in an Italian-American film collector’s donation to George Eastman House. The print was titled Il mandarino and turned out to be an important find for Austrian film history. Il mandarino obviously was an Italian distribution print, made from the longer Austrian feature Der Mandarin (1919), directed by Fritz Freisler and long considered to be lost.
Part of a wave of Austrian films about hypnosis, sexual deviance and (post-war) traumatic disorders and lunacy, Der Mandarin is the tale of arrogant Baron von Stroom (played by the marvellous Karl Götz) who forges a pact with magic forces through a small mandarin. Success with women leads to the baron’s fall and into Vienna’s asylum, where he recounts his story. Mixing a pre-expressionist tale with the theme of post-war male anxiety, Der Mandarin also provides today’s audiences with a record of Vienna in the late 1910s – dark, suburban alleys, Jugendstil architecture and the salons of an aristocracy already in demise.
Michael Loebenstein – Österreichisches Filmmuseum