Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 11:00


Ernst Lubitsch
Piano accompaniment by

Maud Nelissen. Drums accompaniment Frank Bockius

Preceding a photo presentation from the Fondo Davidson (Cineteca di Bologna)


Wednesday 26/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Around 1920 Lubitsch reached the first highpoint of his career. He tried his hand at several different genres turning each work into a unique achievement, and a success. He made a series of delightful comedies, and great costume dramas. Nobody in the German cinema could hold a candle to him. Like many costume dramas, Anna Boleyn was the product of huge effort and expense, which was detailed and used in the film’s publicity. According to the magazine “Lichtbild-Buhne”, 500 horses and 4,000 extras were used for the tournament scene, 380 sculptures were modelled for the set of Westminster Abbey and a host of seamstresses were working on the costumes. The reviewer of “Das Tage-Buch” was so impressed by this monumental expenditure that he stated: “I always have the feeling, with Reinhardt as with Lubitsch, that now in theatre and cinema we are reaping the fruits of the old militaristic era. Such mass scenes can only be carried out so well with a people trained in drills”. In addition to this abstruse theory, however, the critic also noted that Lubitsch’s talent lay not only in directing masses of extras like a general, but also in directing the actors in individual scenes. Indeed, the acting in the individual scenes is brilliant throughout. An outstanding cast was put together for this work, allegedly the most expensive German feature film to date at the time. First and foremost, of course, Henny Porten as Anna Boleyn, a woman who tries to assert herself in a man’s world determined by power strategies and egoism. She is doomed to become a victim to male narcissism and injured pride. The plot of the initially cheerful film darkens as the action inexorably progresses with an intensity that is still shocking today. Despite their clear functionality in a dramatic plot, the characters in Anna Boleyn are drawn with a humanity and complexity that only exceptional actors can achieve, under the guidance of an extraordinary director such as Lubitsch. For example, when Henry VIII (Emil Jannings), a man of blind violence, sheds tears of pain and grief because he is not given a male heir to the throne, one can feel how Lubitsch succeeds in conveying humanity in all its tragic forms.

Karl Wratschko 

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Hans Kraly, Fred Orbing [Norbert Falk]. Scgf.: Kurt Richter. F.: Theodor Sparkuhl. Int.: Henny Porten (Anna Bolena), Emil Jannings (Enrico VIII), Hedwig Pauly (regina Caterina), Hilde Muller (principessa Maria), Ludwig Hartau (conte di Norfolk), Aud Egede-Nissen (Jane Seymour), Ferdinand von Alten (Marc Smeton), Paul Hartmann (cavaliere Heinrich Norris), Maria Reisenhofer (lady Rochford), Adolf Klein (cardinale Wolsey). Prod.: Messter-Film GmbH, Projektions-AG Union. 35mm. L.: 2690 m. D.: 118’ a 20 f/s. Col. (a partire da una copia nitrato imbibita e virata).

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