Sog.: dal romanzo Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1907) di Margarete Böhme; Scen.: Richard Oswald; F.: Max Faßbender; Scgf.: August Rinaldi; Int.: Erna Morena (Thymian Gotteball), Conrad Veidt (Dr. Julius), Werner Krauß (Meinert), Reinhold Schünzel (Casimir Osdorf), Paul Rehkopf (il farmacista Gotteball), Clementine Plessner (zia Frieda), Marga Köhler (la matrigna), Max Laurence, Marie von Bülow (sig.na Woyens); Prod.: Richard Oswald-Film GmbH (Berlin); Pri. pro.: 29 ottobre 1918
35mm. L.: 1253 m. D.: 58′ a 20 f/s. Bn
Prostitution, venereal diseases, homosexuality and drugs are subjects which are generally taboo for silent cinema. The problems which they rouse are beyond normality and immediately become scabrous, they attract the watchful vigilance of the censor and the denial of the circulation visa. When they are confronted one must resort to ellipses, tangents, and toning down. But even with the great caution which had to be used, the production houses did not renounce proposing this material in their products – given the morbid fascination it exerts on the public. In Germany a fairly numerous series of films of this type was produced which, immediately after the war, were called “Aufklärung film”, literally “illuminating films” and perhaps more correctly “instructive films”.
The specialist of the genre was Richard Oswald, a versatile director, who was the author of ten or so of these works, today mostly considered as lost. Among these is Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, taken from the novel by Margarete Böhme, and from which Pabst was to draw the film with Louise Brooks almost ten years later. The actress playing Thymian, the young girl who notes her descent into hell in her diary was the fascinating Erna Morena, who we should like to be able to compare with Brooks if Oswald’s film were to be found. And though squeezed between censorship and the protests of spontaneous defenders of public decency, the film gathered a very wide public consensus, enough to induce Oswald to film the follow-up, Dida Ibsen’s Geschichte, rediscovered and restored, though partially incomplete. Dida Ibsen, the protagonist, is Anita Berber, a famous “nacht-tänzerin”, surrounded by a disdainful Conrad Veidt and a moustached and sardonic Werner Krauss.
Dida Ibsen’s Geschichte was prohibited in toto by the censor and had rare viewings. Today’s audience of this remnant of the Aufklärung film is more fortunate than the audiences of 1918, to whom the film was in large measure denied.
Giacomo Manzoli, Il Cinema Ritrovato 1996, Cineteca di Bologna, Bologna 1996