Scen: Viktor Turžanskij. F.: Joseph-Louis Mundwiller, Nikolai Toporkoff. Scgf.: Ivan Lochakoff. Int.: Nathalie Kovanko (Louise Monet), André Nox (il signor Monet), Madame Joujakoff (Jeanne Dartois), Gaston Rieffler (Maurice Dartois), Huguette Delacroix (la madre di Monet), René Hiéronimus (Léo), Paul Jorge (Caleb), Jean-Paul de Baër (Paul). Prod.: Ermolieff-Cinéma. 35mm. L.: 1586 m. 20 f/s. Col. (da un nitrato imbibito / from a tinted nitrate).
Sostenuto, D-flat major: “But death is there, in the shadows…”
Alfred Cortot’s epithet for Preludes op. 28 n. 15
Filmed straight after the highly spectacular Contes des mille et une nuits, Le Quinzième prélude de Chopin is notable for its less sumptuous filming conditions, using only interior shots. But Ivan Lochakoff’s bourgeois, pretentious and showy décor plays a fundamental role in the film, to the extent of exerting a chilling influence on the personalities and melodramatic situations of the perverse, evil characters. The theme of the famous prelude also plays a role, ever present throughout the film and even revealing the plot… A screenplay dictated by a well-known musical score is the means by which the modernity of Tourjansky (who wrote the script), shines, surpassing even the customary musical hermeneutics associated with Chopin. For, as if taking its cue from George Sand’s remarks on the prelude (the famous repetition of the note simulating a raindrop was an interpretation of nature as a terrifying hallucination and not a mere simulacrum), this is no
imitation but a translation, a rewriting of sensations, so in vogue at the dawn of the 1920s, when the camera was at last beginning to give the story its heartbeat, more than, in the narrower sense, its vision. Yet the press at the time complained about the film’s musical accompaniment: the modern tunes, the waltz, and not a hint of the famous prelude. Le Quinzième prélude de Chopin was Ermolieff’s final production. From 1922, the company changed its name to Albatros when it shot Nuit de Carnaval and the serial La Maison du Mystère. The film was reconstructed by Renée Lichtig in 1987 from the original nitrate negative acquired by Cinémathèque française in 1958. The title cards were created from a list of Albatros cards preserved at Cinémathèque française and based on the style of the title cards on the original negatives. The colours were reintroduced in 2009 at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory from a vintage tinted print provided by producer Alexandre Kamenka in 1950.