Venus im Frack [Venus in Evening Wear] (1927)

Venus im Frack
Director: Robert Land
Writer: Ladislaus Vajda, Erich Nossen
Cast: Carmen BoniEvi Eva, Georg AlexanderMax HansenIda Wüst, Albert SteinrückHenri De Vries
With music by: Rana Farahani, Ursula Winterauer
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2016

Dorothee d’Espard (Carmen Boni) is an emancipated woman and a lawyer working on divorce cases. If it were up to her, she’d divorce every woman from her husband. Needless to say that she doesn’t even think about getting married. Her best friend Hortense (Evi Eva) and right hand seems so share Dorothee’s views, but only pretends to hate her husband Georges (Max Hansen). When Georges’ best friend Charles (Georg Alexander) meets Dorothee, he actually finds her intriguing and so Hortense, George and Charles come up with a plan to cure her of her misandry.

Venus im Frack is so incredibly sexist and misogynistic, it basically becomes its own persiflage, also helped by the fantastic and very modern music that accompanied the screening. But I shudder to think that people actually took it seriously at some point.

The kind of Taming of the Shrew plot is one of the worst narratives I know (which is why I love 10 Things I Hate About You even more). It’s sexist to start with but I’ve never seen it in as pure and direct a form as here. It was almost unbearable. But since it was so absolute, it became a little ridiculous, especially seen from today’s perspective. But viewing it as it’s own send-up is a more generous interpretation than the film deserves.

Because what it is, mostly, is proof how far people, especially men, will go to put and keep women in their place: that is subordinate to men. Dorothee, in this film, simply cannot be left to her own views (that are of course radicalized to show how stupid feminism is), no there are three people devoted to absolutely destroy her and everything she stands for. One does this fulltime. One of them is her – so-called – best friend.

And of course, there’s also the fact that there were many people involved who made an entire film that firmly shoves women into their spot, and they do so with a vitriol that is frankly flabbergasting. So it’s not just the people in the film who really suck.

Summarizing: Only worth it if you have Rana Farahani and Ursula Winterauer’s music as well. Otherwise save yourself the trouble.

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