Arlecchino Cinema > 17:30


Fëdor Ocep
Introduced by

Sophie Seydoux (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé)


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Adapted from a short story by Stefan Zweig published in 1922, Amok is a Malay word describing a paroxysmal state of fury induced by opium, perfectly illustrated on screen during the first ten minutes of the film, where we see a native overcome by a murderous madness in the Malaysian jungle. Fedor Ozep, heeding the lessons of silent pictures, the influence of colonial explorations and the fascination of French cinema with exoticism, glides his camera through the lush vegetation, lingering on faces and bodies in motion, immersing the viewer, without a single line of dialogue, in the humid, stifling heat of the jungle. The opening scene is even more impressive considering the jungle was recreated from scratch at the Joinville studios by a wizard of set design, Lazare Meerson. Zweig’s plot follows the journey of a disgraced doctor, exiled to Malaysia, who drowns his despair in alcohol. Dr Holk is a wreck when he is visited by Hélène Haviland, who is carrying her lover’s child and seeks an abortion before the return of her husband. After the doctor’s haughty refusal, he later regrets his reaction and does everything to ensure that her honour remains intact, even at the cost of his own life.
To tell the story of the redemption of this fallen doctor, Ozep can depend on the brilliant lighting of the renowned Curt Courant, on the magnificent score of his habitual collaborator Karol Rathaus, as well as on formidable actors. Jean Yonnel, a stalwart of the Comédie-Française, gives one of his best performances; Marcelle Chantal gracefully plays the noble beauty who prefers death to dishonour; Russian actor Valéry Inkijinoff plays a dual role as the Malayan led to madness and as Mrs Haviland’s Chinese chauffeur.
Amok is one of the finest screen adaptations of Zweig’s novella, skilfully conveying the desperate atmosphere of the great Austrian writer’s work.

Lenny Borger

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal racconto Der Amokläufer (1922) di Stefan Zweig. Scen.: André Lang. F.: Curt Courant. Scgf.: Alexandre Trauner, Lazare Meerson. M.: Henri Rust. Mus.: Karol Rathaus. Int.: Jean Yonnel (Holk), Marcelle Chantal (Hélène Haviland), Valerij Inkižinov (Amok/Maté), Madeleine Guitty (cameriera del cabaret), Fréhel (cantante), Claude Barghon (Lili), Hubert Daix (Van der Tomb), Jean Galland (signor Haviland), Soura Hari, Toshi Komori (ballerini balinesi). Prod.: Pathé Natan. DCP. Bn.