T. it. Federico Re; Scen.: Hans Behrendt, Bobby E. Lüthge, Arzén von Cserépy; F.: Ernst Lüttgens, Guido Seeber; Scgf.: Hanns Dreier, Ernö Metzner, Arthur Günther, Hans Flemming,Willy Hesch; Co.: Carl Reiner; Mu.: Marc Roland; Int.: Otto Gebühr (prince Friedrich), Albert Steinrück (Friedrich Wilhelm I), Gertrud de Lalsky (Sophie Dorothee, queen of Prussia), Erna Morena (Elisabeth Christine, princess of Braunschweig-Bevern, then princess of Prussia), Eduard von Winterstein (Leopold, count of Anhalt-Dessau), Charlotte Schultz, Lilly Flohr, Bruno Decarli, Eugen Burg, Theodor Burghardt, Josef Klein, Adolf Klein, Friedrich Kayßer, Rolf Prasch, Franz Groß, Marie von Bülow, Albert Patry, Lili Alexandra, Wilhelm Prager, Paul Renkopf, Hans Behrendt, Leonard Haskel; Prod.: Cserépy-Film Co., GmbH, Berlin; Pri. pro.: 31 gennaio 1922. 35mm. L.: 2440 m. D.: 119’ a 18 f/s. Tinted.
A legendary film celebrating the life of Frederick II of Prussia, Fridericus Rex by Arzén von Czerépy was distributed in Germany in four episodes (Sturm und Drang, Vater und Sohn, Sanssouci, Schicksalwende), which have only partially survived to the present day. A concentration of the four chapters into a single film was distributed in Germany in 1925. Siegfried Kracauer spoke about it twice, at the time of his articles in the ‘Frankfurter Zeitung’ newspaper and in From Caligari to Hitler twenty years later. Already in the 1920s Kracauer revealed his appreciation of narration in the form of intertitles. With France still deeply affected by the First World War and German cinema regaining favour – its dynamism was praised by French corporate press – it is easy to understand why the release of a film like this in France could have been problematic. The rare materials preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France reveal, for example, that in order to tone down the laudatory intent of Czerépy’s film and counterbalance two hours of celebrating German imperialism, the Belgian distributors added an epilogue, consisting of the Belgian army parading in Germany and preceded by a shot of King Albert I. Reduced to a single feature-length (or rather a combination of episode I and II in the German serial), the French version (apparently the same for France and French-speaking Belgium) deals more with a young Frederick who’s passionate about music and literature and in marked conflict with his father, Frederick William I, known as ‘the Soldier-King’. The latter, surrounded by a mob of worthless soldiers in leather breeches, immediately brings to mind the disastrous stereotypes who yoked up with the ‘Krauts’ during the years of the war. The French version of the film also cuts off at the young king’s ascent to the throne, thus concealing his most aggressive undertakings, such as the Seven Years War he fought against Louis XV. Besides the value of the film in itself, here it is precisely the discrepancy between the two versions to justify the restoration and screening of this Fridericus, 85 years after its first release awaiting comparison with the German original.
Christophe Gauthier, Cinémathèque de Toulouse
Print restored in 2010 by Archives françaises du film - Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, from a nitrate positive held by Cinémathèque de Toulouse