T. or.: Lola Montès. Sc.: Jacques Natanson, Annette Wademant, Franz Geiger, Max Ophüls. F.: Christian Matras. Mu.: Georges Auric. M.: Adolph Schlyssleder. Scgf.: Jean d’Eaubonne, Jacques Guth e (versione tedesca) William Schatz. Cost.: Georges Annonkov. Op.: Alain Dourinou, Ernest Bourreaud, Henri Champion, Luc Miro. Su.: Antoine Petitjean. Cast: Martine Carol (Lola), Peter Ustinov (l’imbonitore), Adolf Wohlbrück (re Luigi I di Baviera), Henri Guisol (Maurice), Oskar Werner (lo studente), Will Quadflieg (Franz Liszt), Ivan Desny (ten. James), Paulette Dubost (Joséphine), Lise Delamare (Mrs. Craigie). Prod.: Gamma-Films, Florida Films, Unionfilms; 35mm. D.: 116’ a 24 f/s. Col.
A French-German coproduction, this was the most expensive European film of the 50s. In Eastmancolor and Cinemascope, with 4-channel magnetic sound, it was filmed simultaneously in three language versions: French, German and English. However, the Paris and Munich premieres flopped, leading to a long trail of destruction: the film was shortened and redubbed several times, and all three original negatives were cut and reedited. Unfortunately, none of the premiere versions survived. The best prints available are dupes from a print which was redubbed at the beginning of 1956, shortened slightly, and cropped for the optical soundtrack. The Münchner Filmmuseum used all existing material for its restoration, including fragments of the original German and French negatives, a work print from the Cinémathèque Municipale de Luxembourg, original magnetic-track distribution prints from their own collections and from the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, in an attempt to recreate the original German premiere print as closely as possible. In order to combine very different quality materials, bring back original colors from faded prints, and maintain the original aspect ratio, restoration was done digitally (HDTV 1080 24p) and then transferred back to 35mm film. For the first time since the premieres, you can now see the film in its original length with its original colors and aspect ratio, along with its multilingual soundtrack and soundmix.
Ophüls had a very clear idea of the colors he wanted for the film: «The circus will be made of violent contrasts, like the ties worn in American today». The crowd is always in the dark. The lights are raw, like today’s neon lights. The circus performers’ faces are colored, like a painting painted for a great show. The ringmasters in solid red. The acrobats in blue. The animal tamers in green. The soldiers in yellow. The only human faces among these blotches of color were to be those of Lola and the horse rider. The Liszt episode would then be made in «autumn colors, like fallen leaves: gold, red, and dark yellow for both interior and exterior sets». Lola’s youth would be portrayed in «a mélange of gray, dark blue and black. All metallic colors had to appear opaque, almost rusty». As for the Bavarian episode, Ophüls wanted it in completely different colors: «blue, matte gold, silver, and a delicate, wintry blue».