Piazza Maggiore > 21:00


Lupu Pick

Live accompaniment by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna directed by Timothy Brock. Original score composed by Klaus Pringsheim for the film première, reconstructed and arranged by Frank Strobel

In case of rain, the screening will be canceled


Saturday 29/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Sylvester – Tragödie einer Nacht is the fourth collaborative work of Lupu Pick and Carl Mayer following Der Dummkopf (The Blockhead, 1920), Scherben (Shattered, 1921) and Grausige Nächte (Nights of Terror, 1921). And for Mayer, it is the third Kammerspielfilm after Scherben and Hintertreppe. Mayer also wrote the original idea for the script of Die Straße (The Street, 1923), which was directed by Karl Grune around the same time. Sylvester is, in a sense, a work developed from Die Straße; here the street becomes a landscape on which the protagonist’s inner feelings are projected. The expression of the street seen in these two films would further link to the importance of the street in the films of Neue Sachlichkeit. In the Kammerspielfilm, the tiny things in daily life that most films do not depict are observed as seen through a microscope, and the psychological movements of the people become important, represented not through the intertitles but through the subtle changes and movements of the actors’ expressions. A strong, intensive and quite different drama is born via these experiments. The camera not only witnesses the tragedy of a family over the course of one night in Sylvester, but also finally shows the world itself as a living environment – Lotte Eisner called it “Umwelt”. The objects and the landscape are shown almost as living objects. This is the animism that runs throughout this work. The protagonist dies but in this living world a new life is born.

Hiroshi Komatsu

Sylvester is based on a script by Carl Mayer that is a work of art in itself and was published to coincide with the film’s premiere. Sylvester shows us the tragic story of a woman, a man and his mother on New Year’s Eve, featuring the street as supporting actor, so to speak: cinematographer Guido Seeber shot the street scenes with a moving camera. Sylvester premiered in Berlin in January 1924 with music by Klaus Pringsheim. The original negative of the film is lost. The only surviving German element is a heavily abridged nitrate print in the collection of Deutsche Kinemathek. A vintage print of the English version archived in the Komiya-Nitrate Collection of the National Film Archive of Japan is the most complete preserved film element. This print was presented in Bologna in 2019, while the restoration was still under way. In a collaborative project between Deutsche Kinemathek and the National Film Archive of Japan, Sylvester has been digitised and restored. The German nitrate print and film elements from Cinémathèque française were used to substitute fragmented or badly damaged parts of the Japanese print. Furthermore, Deutsche Kinemathek aimed at correcting the numerous editing mistakes inherent in this element. Important preliminary work had already been done by Filmmuseum München, but many obviously displaced shots still remained without any indication of their correct position. During the reconstruction phase, the original manuscript of Klaus Pringsheim’s score was located in the archives at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. It contained references to the content of the film that served as important indications for reconstructing the cut as presumably seen in 1924. In an intensive collaboration, Deutsche Kinemathek and conductor Frank Strobel, who was brought in to reconstruct and arrange the music for the restored version, managed to reunite the images and music of the dramatic Kammerspiel that Lupu Pick shot as warning to society.

Julia Wallmüller

Cast and Credits

T. alt.: Sylvester – Tragödie einer Nacht. Scen.: Carl Mayer. F.: Karl Hasselmann, Guido Seeber. M.: Luise Heilborn-Körbitz. Scgf.: Klaus Richter. Mus.: Klaus Pringsheim. Int.: Edith Posca (la donna), Eugen Klöpfer (l’uomo), Frida Richard (madre), Karl Harbacher, Julius E. Herrmann, Rudolf Blümner. Prod.: Lupu Pick per Rex-Film AG. DCP.