Re-Watch: Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) + Muthspiel / Rom / Eggner

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: F.W. Murnau, Robert J. Flaherty, Edgar G. Ulmer
Cast: Matahi, Anne Chevalier, Bill Bambridge, Hitu, Ah Fong, Jules, Mehao
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Wolfgang Muthspiel, played by him, Mario Rom and Florian Eggner
Seen on: 22.5.2021
[Here’s my first review of the film, without live music.]

Content Note: white gaze / racism

Plot:
On Bora Bora, a young boy, Matahi (Matahi), and a young girl, Reri (Anne Chevalier), fall in love. But when Reri is declared the Chosen Maid, the sacred virgin of the island by their leader, an old warrior (Hito), not even the thought of love is allowed anymore. But Marahi and Reri are not willing to accept that and decide to flee.

Since this year, the Film and Music Cycle was a little difficult – of the four performances, two were canceled and I couldn’t see one – I knew that I wanted to see this final film, even though they had to change the original program and swapped in Tabu – a film that I had seen before and hadn’t particularly liked. And while it was great to be out in a theater/concert hall again, a second viewing didn’t change my mind either, especially not with that musical accompaniment.

The film poster showing a drawing of Matahi (Matahi) as he spear-fishes.
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Phantom (1922) + PHACE

Phantom
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Thea von Harbou, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
Based on: Gerhart Hauptmann‘s novel
Cast: Alfred Abel, Lya De Putti, Frida Richard, Aud Egede-Nissen, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Adolf Klein, Olga Engl, Karl Etlinger, Lil Dagover
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 10.1.2020

Plot:
Lorenz (Alfred Abel) walks a little aimlessly through his life, dreaming of publishing his poetry, but not much ambition for anything.That is, until fate seems to strike – quite literally: he gets run over by Veronica (Lya De Putti), beautiful, rich, and very much from another world than he is. Lorenz can’t stop thinking about her anymore. When he finds another girl, Melitta (Lya De Putti), who looks just like Veronica but is more within his reach, he will do anything to win her over, even if it means going in considerable debt.

Phantom the film might be better than the impression I had of it after this evening, simply because I really struggled with the music by PHACE this time. Ultimately, the evening felt rather exhausting to me.

The film poster showing a drawing of a woman's face on a black background.
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Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

Aleksandr Nevskiy
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dmitriy Vasilev
Writer: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Nikolai Okhlopkov, Andrei Abrikosov, Dmitriy Orlov, Vasili Novikov, Nikolai Arsky, Varvara Massalitinova, Valentina Ivashova, Aleksandra Danilova, Vladimir Yershov, Sergei Blinnikov, Ivan Lagutin, Lev Fenin, Naum Rogozhin
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Sergey Prokofiev, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, sung by the Wiener Singakademie and Marina Prudenskaya, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 21.11.2019

Plot:
In 13th century Russia, foreign forces have overrun the country. Aleksandr Nevskiy (Nikolay Cherkasov) thought that he had left war behind and could spend the rest of his life as a fisherman. But his reputation makes him the ideal man for the remaining Russian forces to rally behind – and he finally agrees to lead them all to victory against the invadors.

Eisenstein definitely knows how to make propaganda and Aleksandr Nevskiy is no exception there. Accompanied by the entire ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and the Wiener Singakademie made watching it extra-special though, because size of the orchestra and choir matched the size of the film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a knight - Aleksandr Nevskiy - on a rearing horse.
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Der letzte Mann [The Last Laugh] (1924) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

Der letzte Mann (literally: The Last Man)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Carl Mayer
Cast: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz, Hans Unterkircher, Olaf Storm
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Giuseppe Becce, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 23.5.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
The Doorman (Emil Jannings) has been working in the big hotel for a very long time and he takes a lot of pride in his job. But he is also getting old. After carrying a particularly heavy suitcase, he has to take a break – which the Hotel Manager (Hans Unterkircher) sees. He decides that the Doorman isn’t up to the task anymore and that he should do something less strenuous, so he makes him washroom clerk. But the Doorman can’t handle the demotion this means and starts to unravel.

When I first saw Der letzte Mann, I was completely blown away by it, so when it was announced as part of the Film and Music Cycle, I was pretty excited to see it again. Thankfully, the film lived up to my memories of it and the accompaniment of the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester was also really good.

The film poster showing a drawing of the Doorman (Emil Jannings) whose uniform jacket is pulled from his body by two giant blue hands.
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Die kleine Veronika (1929) + Ernst Molden & Walther Soyka

Die kleine Veronika (literally: Little Veronika) aka Unschuld (literally: Innocence)
Director: Robert Land
Writer: Max Jungk, Robert Land
Based on: Felix Salten‘s novella
Cast: Käthe von Nagy, Maly Delschaft, Mizzi Zwerenz, Harry Hardt, Karl Forest, Gustl Werner, Artur Ranzenhofer, Anny Ranzenhofer, Gaby Gilles, Otto Hartmann, Anita Muthsam, Lizzi Natzler
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Ernst Molden & Walther Soyka
Seen on: 15.1.2019
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Plot:
Veronika (Käthe von Nagy) lives a sheltered life in Tyrol, supported by her aunt Rosi (Maly Delschaft) who lives in Vienna and earns good money. For her confirmation, Veronika can go to Vienna to visit Rosi who lives in a big house with other women. Veronika is too naive to realize that Rosi is a sex worker. When one of Rosi’s customers shows interest in Veronika, she is very flattered and thinks he is serious which brings her a whole lot of trouble.

Die kleine Veronika does feel a little dusty from today’s perspective, but for the most part, the film still works despite of that. The music by Molden and Soyka similarly didn’t work 100%, but it fit more often than it didn’t fit.

Veronika (Käthe von Nagy) at her confirmation celebration.
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Die Stadt ohne Juden [The City Without Jews] (1924) + PHACE

Die Stadt ohne Juden
Director: H.K. Breslauer
Writer: Ida Jenbach, H.K. Breslauer
Based on: Hugo Bettauer‘s novel
Cast: Johannes Riemann, Anny Miletty, Gisela Werbisek, Armin Berg, Hans Moser, Eugen Neufeld, Ferdinand Mayerhofer, Mizi Griebl, Karl Tema, Hans Effenberger
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 7.11.2018

Content Note: antisemitism

Plot:
Austria has a new government and the new Chancellor (Eugen Neufeld) is a raging antisemite. He manages to pass a new law that will force all Jews to leave by the end of the year. The law is received with great enthusiasm, and the Jews actually do leave, although there are some people who are against it like the Jewish artist Leo (Johannes Riemann) and the girl he is in love with, Lotte (Anny Miletty), daughter of a politician who voted for the banishment. But once the Jews are gone, it doesn’t quite have the intended effect.

Of course, from today’s perspective Die Stadt ohne Juden seems both prescient and not exactly great activism anymore. In any case, it’s a chilling historical document and an interesting film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a shadowy figuring in red hovering over a city while a huge mass of people is leaving through the city gate.
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Herr Tartüff [Tartuffe] (1925) + Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich / Frank Strobel

Herr Tartüff
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Carl Mayer
Based on: Molière‘s play
Cast: Emil Jannings, Hermann Picha, Rosa Valetti, André Mattoni, Werner Krauss, Lil Dagover, Lucie Höflich, Camilla Horn
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Giuseppe Becce, played be the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 20.3.2018
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Plot:
A young man (André Mattoni) suspects that his grandfather’s (Hermann Picha) housekeeper (Rosa Valetti) is trying to kill him to get to his money. So the young man tries to warn his by then isolated grandfather of her machinations by showing him a film. In that film, Tartüff (Emil Jannings) pretends to be a devout priest. He is staying with Herr Orgon (Werner Krauss) and his wife Elmire (Lil Dagover). Elmire is suspicious of Tartüff and his intentions, but Orgon doesn’t want to hear it…

Herr Tartüff is an enjoyable film and Becce’s music is really quite something. I wouldn’t have needed the entire thing to be longer than it was, but I had a good time throughout.

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Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed [The Adventures of Prince Achmed] (1926) + Peter Rosmanith and Otto Lechner

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
Director: Lotte Reiniger, Carl Koch
Writer: Lotte Reiniger
Based on: One Thousand and One Nights
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by: Peter Rosmanith and Otto Lechner
Seen on: 11.12.2017
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Plot:
A sorcerer creates a flying horse. Intrigued, the Caliph wants to buy it, but the sorcerer doesn’t want money for it – he wants Princess Dinarsade. Her brother Achmed tries to save her, but the sorcerer lures him on the horse and they fly off. It takes Achmed a while to learn to control it, but once he does, he is ready to have quite a few adventures it takes him to.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed is probably the oldest (surviving) full length animation film and it is obvious how painstakingly it was made. The result is impressive, even if the story itself isn’t. The incongruous accompaniment with accordion music was a surprisingly good fit, making the evening absolutely enjoyable.

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Der Fluch [The Curse] (1925) + Gabriela Montero

Der Fluch
Director: Robert Land
Writer: Walter ReischErnst Weizmann
Cast: Oscar Beregi Sr.Lilian Harvey, Ferdinand BonnAlbert HeineAnny HornikReinhold HäussermannRia JászonyiAnton Pointner
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Gabriela Montero
Seen on: 10.10.2017
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Plot:
Jehuda (Oscar Beregi Sr.) impresses the young Lea (Anny Hornik) and Lea’s devout father Esra (Albert Heine) agrees to their engagement. But before they can actually get married, Jehuda falls for Rahel (Ria Jászonyi) and not caring much for Lea, leaves her. Heartbroken Lea commits suicide. Esra confronts Jehuda and curses him, but Jehuda is unwilling to contemplate his part in the tragedy for many years.

Der Fluch didn’t really work for me. While it was interesting to get an authentic look at a Jewish settlement from a pre-World War 2 time, nothing else about the film really managed to convince me.

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Ivan Groznyy [Ivan the Terrible] (1945 and 1958) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and Wiener Singakademie / Frank Strobel

Ivan Groznyy [Ivan the Terrible, Part I] (1945) and Ivan Groznyy. Skaz vtoroy: Boyarskiy zagovor [Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars’ Plot] (1958)
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Writer: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Lyudmila Tselikovskaya, Serafima Birman, Mikhail Nazvanov, Mikhail Zharov, Amvrosi Buchma, Mikhail Kuznetsov, Pavel Kadochnikov, Andrei Abrikosov, Aleksandr Mgebrov, Maksim Mikhaylov, Vladimir Balashov, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Semyon Timoshenko, Aleksandr Rumnyov, Pavel Massalsky, Ada Vojtsik, Erik Pyryev
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Sergey Prokofiev, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, sung by the Wiener Singakademie, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 23.6.2017
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Plot:
In the 16th century, Archduke Ivan (Nikolay Cherkasov) crowns himself Tsar of Russia and sets himself the goal to unite Russia under one rule. Not everybody is taken with his plans and Ivan always has to watch his back – also among the people of his court. There his aunt Efrosinia Staritskaya (Serafima Birman) is plotting against him, hoping to put her own son Dmitri in his place. But also his marriage to Anstasia Romanova (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya) costs him support. But Ivan will do anything to achieve his goals, no matter the cost.

Ivan Groznyy is a monumental two-parter and an absolutely affective and effective piece of propaganda. It’s worth seeing – especially on the big screen, when you got a huge orchestra and choir on stage to (under)score it. The film is too big to do anything on a small scale.

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