Leise flehen meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (1933)

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Mártha Eggerth, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Anna Kallina
Seen on: 08.02.2021

Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) makes his living as a school teacher, but he is barely scraping by and always dreams of making music. When he has to pawn one of his instruments just to get by, pawn shop worker Emmi (Luise Ullrich) takes a shine to him. And Franz seems to like her, too. But right when his career seems to take a turn and he gets the chance to play at an important soiree, he crushes all hopes when he is unable to keep his temper in check when somebody in the audience laughs during his piece. Franz has to accept a teaching position in the country to make his living, a position with none other but the young woman in the audience who laughed at him – Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth).

Leise flehen meine Lieder is a very romantic take on a story that probably wasn’t as romantic. It works with music beautifully and I liked it.

The film poster showing a woman, could be either Emmi (Luise Ulrich) or Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth), leaning against a pillar as Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) plays the piano.

The movie starts with a distancing statement, emphasizing that it is not meant to be historically accurate. I thought that alone was pretty interesting – looking at biopics today, they usually have a similar disclaimer, while at the same time aspiring to be as faithful as possible. Here, Forst and Reisch decided to play freely with history and I rather liked that idea and acknowledgement of it.

It gave them room to make the film as romantic and sentimental as Schubert’s music, making it truthful in symbolism rather than fact. And that really works, especially since it leans heavily on Schubert’s music and incorporates it so much, it is almost a musical.

Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) talking to Emmi (Luise Ullrich).

Jaray is perfect for the role, making Schubert impulsive and slightly narcisstic. Very much the romantic hero, but not necassarily a very likeable person. The way he treats Emmi, in any case, is despicable and my heart really broke for her. Luise Ullrich gives Emmi so much depth and Márthe Eggerth manages to show the Duchess’ vulnerable side. With that central trio, the film couldn’t really have gone wrong.

Considering that this is Forst’s directorial debut, the self-assured ease, sense for characters and rhythm of the film is even more impressive than it would have been otherwise. Either way, it makes Leise flehen meine Lieder absolutely enjoyable.

Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) talking to Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth).

Summarizing: very nice.

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