Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 15:30


Ernst Lubitsch
Piano accompaniment by

Daniele Furlati



Wednesday 26/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Winter movies: In the winter snows of 1919-1920 Lubitsch made two films based on plays by William Shakespeare, Kohlhiesels Töchter (Lubitsch called it “The Taming of the Shrew relocated to the Bavarian mountains”) and Romeo und Julia im Schnee (which transforms the tragedy into a Black Forest comedy). It is said that Lubitsch wanted to combine winter sports with work. In any case, the season is essential to the climate of the two films. Action and comedy are developed from the below-freezing temperatures, culminating in slides where the bodies become objects of a joyful awkwardness.

Hans Helmut Prinzler, Enno Patalas (eds.), Lubitsch, Bucher, Munchen- Luzern 1984

Slapstick, translated at the time as ‘grotesque film’, is a valid definition of these movies: they have the speed and the rhythm. Never before in any art has the human body played such a role, even if only as a shadow, a silhouette. Despite their physical presence, stage actors were mainly loudspeakers after all. In Lubitsch’s German films Emil Jannings is a mass, a lump, like Fatty Arbuckle or Oliver Hardy. Kohlhiesels Töchter becomes cinematic thanks to him alone. Henny Porten as both daughters is a purely filmic gag, and playing with appearances something Lubitsch does better than anyone else. It remains ambiguous whether it’s intentional that Porten, when she is natural, being herself, seems an oaf, and when she plays the oaf, she develops a charm, to which Jannings ultimately succumbs – and the audience as well. Lubitsch often made grotesque versions of high literature […] but closer to an operetta than to the original. He picks out details in the original work that only film can make manifest. It is all about effect, no longer about characters nor about representation in the old sense. It is about a new humour, which is an anti-folkloristic humour even when the films are set in the countryside.

Frieda Grafe, Was Lubitsch beruhrt, in Hans Helmut Prinzler, Enno Patalas (eds.), Lubitsch, Bucher, Munchen- Luzern 1984 

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Hanns Kräly, Ernst Lubitsch. F.: Theodor Sparkuhl. Scgf.: Jack Winter. Int.: Henny Porten (Liesel/Gretel Kohlhiesel), Emil Jannings (Peter Xaver), Gustav von Wangenheim (Paul Seppl), Jakob Tiedtke (Mathias Kohlhiesel), Willy Prager (il commerciante). Prod.: Messter- Film GmbH. 35mm. L.: 1315 m. D.: 61’ a 19 f/s. Bn.


Year: [1920?]
Country: Francia
Running time: 5'