Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis [Mrs. Dane’s Confession] (1921)

Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis
Director: Michael Curtiz (then still Michael Kertész)
Writer: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Lucy Doraine, Alphons Fryland, Otto Treßler, Kurt von Lessen, Harry De Loon
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2015

Dorothy (Lucy Doraine) awakens next to a body and is immediately arrested. Grilled by the police who accuse her of the murder, she protests that she’s innocent. Bit by bit Dorothy’s memories are pieced together, starting with the death of her parents and how she came under the tutelage of her uncle. But her seemingly safe life is derailed when she is saved from an attempted kidnapping by a dashing man. Unfortunately he is not really after her but her money.

Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis unfortunately didn’t manage to impress me, despite the nice presentation with a pianist who accompanied the film live.

I had actually missed in the Viennale program that the film would be shown with live music, so that was a very nice surprise. With the Film and Music Cycle at the Konzerthaus, I’ve seen my share of silent film accompanied by live music, but usually it’s done with more than just a pianist there and is a much more special, grand thing. I liked that we got to see the film like it would have been shown in most cinemas when it first came out: with a single pianist. And I quite liked the music itself.

Unfortunately the film didn’t impress me quite as much as the presentation. For one, it turned out that this film and Not Wanted – that I had seen the night before – shared a few parallels and Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis just couldn’t keep up with Not Wanted. Which is a high bar not to clear, but still.

I also felt that in this film the heightened body language, that is typical for silent movies and that I’ve learned to read and usually don’t mind at all anymore, actually bothered me. It felt stilted and unnatural and much too obviously acted, keeping me from getting into the film.

In the end, I just couldn’t connect to any of it, despite some nice moments and that made the film – that is about an hour long – seem much longer than it is. It’s safe to say that it can be skipped, even if it’s not all bad.

fraudorothysbekenntnis2Summarizing: they can’t all be winners.

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