Ewald André Dupont

Sog.: dal romanzo Der Eid des Stephan Huller di Felix Holländer. Scen.: Ewald André Dupont. F.: Karl Freund, Carl Hoffmann. Scgf.: Oscar Friedrich Werndorff. Mus.: Ernö Rapée. Int.: Emil Jannings (‘Boss’ Huller), Lya de Putti (Berta-Marie), Warwick Ward (Artinelli), Maly Delschaft (la moglie di Boss Huller), Kurt Gerron (lo scaricatore di porto), Georg John (il marinaio), Georg Baselt (impresario del varietà), Charles Lincoln (l’artista spagnolo), Alice Hechy (l’attrice). Prod.: Universum-Film AG (UFA) ·DCP. D.: 95’. Bn.

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

The source material on which Variety is based – Der Eid des Stephan Huller (The Oath of Stephan Huller) – was published in 1912. The material was pure pulp fiction and a prime example of the widespread trend of emotional and sensationalist literary kitsch so predominant at the turn of the century. Two movie versions were made of it in the years after publication, but by the 1920s this kind of literature had fallen into gracious oblivion. The 1925 movie, by Ewald André Dupont, which borrows its motifs from this novel ranks among the most prominent cinematic works produced during the Weimar Republic era. Variety’s international box office success was Dupont’s ticket to Hollywood. It was also due to the then still sensational appeal of a melodramatic love triangle between acrobats around which the plot revolves. Yet its film-historical significance, and timeless appeal to today’s audiences, have different reasons: its directorial finesse, systematically translating the plot into the silent movie language of expressions and gestures, and virtuose camera work which conveys the emotional turmoil in the form of sensual sensations and visual vertigo.
Set as the personal account of a convicted murderer, the plot is one long flashback of a jealousy-ridden conflict between trapeze artists, which reaches its thrilling climax at dizzying heights. However, the inevitable tragic turn does not occur in front of the audience beneath the starry ceiling of Berlin’s Wintergarten Theater, but in an uneven duel between the cuckolded Boss (Emil Jannings) and Artinelli (Warwick Ward) over the beautiful Berta-Marie (Lya de Putti). In a movie, overflowing with intriguing visibility, which kindles the audience’s curiosity like nothing else; by a cascade of innovative camera effects, suggestive props, artistic performances and erotic eye and body contacts, the homicidal act eludes the vaudeville audience’s view and curiosity as the fighting men descend to the floor while the camera, unchained throughout the rest of the movie, rests in position undeterred. The movie audience sees but an arm suddenly going limp and dropping a knife, before the hulky figure of the victorious Boss rises above his slain opponent, rendering it a distinctive ellipse. It signalizes less an act of subjective suppression in the murderer’s memory, but rather a moment of moral reflection of the drama which has been captivating the viewer’s minds up to that point.

Michael Wedel


Copy From

Restored in 2014-2015 by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, in cooperation with Filmarchiv Austria in Vienna, from an abridged nitrate copy for the US market, provided by Library of Congress. The German title cards and missing scenes stem from a nitrate copy of Filmarchiv Austria. Some shots were added from a duplicate copy of the Filmmuseum Munich and a duplicate negative of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Missing title cards were reconstructed on the basis of the censorship card and the typography of the Viennese copy’s titles. The digital restoration in 2K was realized by Filmarchiv Austria.