Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Scen.: Thea Von Harbou, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (non accr.), dal romanzo di Gerhart Hauptmann; F.: Axel Graatkjaer; Op.: Theophan Ouchakoff; Scgf.: Hermann Warm, Erich Czerwonski; Cost.: Vally Reinecke; Mu.: Leo Spiess, Ernst Krenek; Int.: Alfred Abel (Lorenz Lubota), Frida Richard (sua madre), Aud Egede Nissen (Melanie, sua sorella), Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (Hugo, un fratello minore), Karl Etlinger (Starke, mastro rilegatore), Lil Dagover (Marie, sua figlia), Grete Berger (Frau Schwabe), Anton Edthofer (Wigottschinski), Ilka Grüning (Baronessa), Lya de Putti (Melitta, sua figlia), Adolf Klein (Harlan, mercante di ferraglie), Olga Engl (sua moglie), Heinrich Witte (fuzionario), Wilhelm Diegelmann, Eduard von Winterstein, Arnold Korff ; Prod.: Uco-Film per Decla-Bioscop; 35mm. L.: 2905 m. D.: 125’ a 22 f/s.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Phantom was produced by the Ullstein brothers in 1922 for Decla-Bioscop, as a tribute to writer Gerhart Hauptmann on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. The film was directed by F.W. Murnau and scripted by Thea Von Harbou. Only the original negative of this film was preserved. Apparently complete, it includes several frames of most of the original intertitles. As the censorship cards no longer exist, the missing intertitles were reconstructed from the original screenplay, which contained a good number of intertitles that were later eliminated during preparation of the final list for the film. Nonetheless, a review from the era allowed us to confirm that various intertitles that are present in the screenplay but now missing from the negative were present in the original release prints. This is the case for several intertitles that highlight the dramatic climax of the events day by day. The first of them – “Der taumelnde Tag…” (“The day of dizziness…”) – is mentioned in an article by Béla Balázs in “Der Tag” (Vienna, 20.4.1923), thus we imagined that the intertitles “Der graue Tag” and “Der schwarze Tag” (“The gray day” and “The black day”) were also present. Small editing errors were corrected, such as leader used to separate reels which had never been removed, plus two shots of Gerhart Hauptmann taking a walk that were put back in the right place. For the first time since Phantom was released, a color print was made. The original color was reproduced according to indications on some of the flash titles, written in ink and pencil that were so hard to see that until today they had gone unnoticed. These notes indicated the colors purple, amber, orange, green, and black and white, as well as the dual effects pink/red and blue/purple. Therefore the color range seemed complete. The small number of indications nonetheless made it very difficult to establish the color for all scenes. The only hints we had on which to base our hypotheses for the color of the entire film were the different types of splices present in the negative, which revealed that editing changes had been made during various eras. There were at least three types of splices: the oldest type corresponded to the original cut by Decla-Bioscop from October 1922 and to later revisions and changes made by UFA in 1923. During that period, the negative was separated into scenes or small blocks which had the same light density and color. At a later stage, around 1930, UFA reedited the film putting it in narrative order: it was divided into 300-meter reels using a different type of splice. As a result, all the scenes that had the oldest type of splice necessarily had the same color system. We were thus able to establish that both the interior and exterior shots in the final part of the film were colored green, and that daytime exterior shots as well as the scenes in the bookstore were colored amber. Interior nighttime shots were instead black and white, according to indications on an interior nighttime scene that appears in orange in a daytime shot. The nighttime blue is clearly indicated by the presence of exterior nighttime scenes that were filmed during the day, with a light sky, and by the existence of an interior nighttime scene with the dual blue/purple coloring, while the daytime scenes presented only purple. The disappearance of this film for over thirty years, and its recovery in the sixties, meant that the negative reached us almost entirely devoid of any further manipulation. In any case, the few later changes were clearly identifiable by a third and very different type of splice.

Luciano Berriatúa, Camille Blot-Wellens

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