Scen.: Carl Junghans. F.: László Schäffer. Scgf.: Ernst Meiwers. Int.: Vera Baranovskaja (la lavandaia), Theodor Pištěk (il marito), Máňa Ženíšková (la figlia), Wolfgang Zilzer (il corteggiatore), Jindřich Plachta (il sarto), Manja Kellerová (la moglie del sarto), Eman Fiala (il pianista), Valeska Gert (la cameriera), Uli Tridenskaja (amica della lavandaia), Betty Kysilková (cassiera). Prod.: Star-Film, Carl Junghans-Filmproduktion. DCP. Bn.
Carl Junghans’ film captures the tragic story of an aging laundress, whose drudgery and toil support a licentious and abusive alcoholic husband. Following the wave of social realism in European cinema, the film tries to be true to life, refusing embellishment or sentimentalism. In this way, it distinguished itself from the other films produced during this period in Prague. German social cinema and the cinematic expression of Soviet cinema (some shots are only two frames long) influenced Carl Junghans and are not only present in the style of the film itself, but also in the casting which included personalities who had already played in decisive films that influenced its genesis. The choice of Vera Baranovskaja as the main character is a reference to the sacrifice and the moral integrity of Pudovkin’s Mother. The performance of Valeska Gert, who plays a waitress liberated from the usual confinement of female repertoire, is essential not only for the characterization of the waitress, but also to associate the film with avant-garde ideas and aesthetics and to set it apart from mainstream productions.
A few weeks after its initial release in Berlin’s Ufa-Theater, some shots, considered too obviously sexually explicit and indecent, were censored in Czechoslovakia: a customer touching the manicurist’s knee, the lovers’ scene, a man carrying his bedpan, a doctor proposing a price for an abor- tion, a drunken husband heading to the toilet.
So far, no original print of the silent version has been found in the world. A 1950’s print – made from a print dating most likely from the first release in Germany in 1930 that included all the censored sequences – was the best source available for the digitization. The Czech intertitles, produced in the 1950s probably for a sound version, are more concise than in the original Czech version that did not survive. All the other existing film materials have been made from this print.We were determined to preserve its integrity throughout the digitization process.
Restored in 2016 from a 35mm safety print and a 35mm safety internegative at the Hungarian Filmlab under the supervision of the Národní filmový archiv. Digital restoration of this film was kindly supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and co- financed by the ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic