Die Jüdin von Toledo [The Jewess of Toledo] (1919)

Die Jüdin von Toledo
Director: Otto Kreisler
Writer: Robert Land
Based on: Franz Grillparzer‘s play
Cast: Thea Rosenquist, Franz Höbling, Ida Norden, Leopold Iwald, Josef Viktora, Theodor Weiß, Emmy Flemmich
With music by: Fabian Pollack
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Rahel (Thea Rosenquist) is a free spirit and doesn’t care much for rules. When she sees the beauty of the royal gardens, she goes in even though it’s forbidden and promptly stumbles on the King (Franz Höbling) and the Queen (Ida Norden). The King is enchanted by the girl’s passion, her family, all to well aware of their precarious status as Jewish people, are horrified. But after their encounter, the King can’t just let Rahel go.

They showed only a fragment (about 40 minutes) of this film at the Viennale, I’m not sure if there isn’t more of the film at all or if not everything is restored, but either way, I regret deeply not being able to see the film in its entirety because the part of it I saw was absolutely electrifying.

With silent movies, especially the really old ones, there is always the risk that the acting and directing style feels outdated and becomes a little ridiculous. And The Jewess of Toledo is not entirely free of that and there are moments that do feel funny – and that was definitely not the intention.

But no matter how much that is the case, the film never loses its emotional punch – and it absolutely carries a punch, from the set-up to the ending that pretends to happy and very much isn’t, highlighting the unfairness of absolutely everything about it.

I have never read or seen Grillparzer’s play, but it’s definitely something I shall do now and if it’s anything as powerful as the movie version, I do hope that we’ll get a modern version of it soon. I think it would totally pay off.

The fragment was accompanied by another fragment – of Der Gaukler – and live music by Fabian Pollack that did fit the film very well and that I liked. But what’s really staying with me are the images and the story.

Summarizing: Inspiring.

1 thought on “Die Jüdin von Toledo [The Jewess of Toledo] (1919)

  1. Pingback: Gaukler [Les saltimbanques] (1930) | kalafudra's Stuff

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