Boss Huller (Emil Jannings) is an artist at the circus together with his wife (Maly Delschaft), but after an accident he started to stay away from the trapeze. When young woman Bertha-Marie (Lya De Putti) is brought to the circus because she has debts she can’t pay otherwise, she finds a bed with the family Huller. It doesn’t take long until she and Boss fall in love and Boss uproots his entire life for her. But things are not headed for a happy end.
Varieté is not only an excellent film, combined with the soundtrack by The Tiger Lillies, it makes for an utterly fantastic, riveting evening.
Woyzeck (Raphael von Bargen) is a young soldier who has a child with Marie (Ruth Brauer-Kvam), despite not being married to her. Woyzeck does all he can to support Marie and their child: he does menial tasks for his Captain (Ben Becker) and participates in questionable experiments of the local doctor (Joachim Bissmeier), both for extra pay. But Woyzeck’s psyche is slowly fracturing and when Marie starts flirting with the handsome drum major (Xaver Hutter), it pushes him over the edge.
I loved pretty much everything about this production apart from their interpretation of the play. The stage design and the music was great, the actors were mostly good, but I just did not like the versions of Woyzeck and Marie we got to see.
Plot: The Tiger Lillies perform songs about a Victorian Freakshow while we see acts from said Freakshow – a snake woman, “Siamese twins”, a juggler, etc. The songs are sometimes thoughtful meditation about human nature – as Toma puts it very nicely:
“Where is the freak in us? How big or how small does one have to be to understand this world and be part of it? Are six arms enough to comfort someone? How many hearts must a woman have to fulfil her destiny? Is our palm big enough to hold everything we want? How many red ball noses does one have to wear to be funny?”
But sometimes they’re also very funny hymns to Lobotomy.
I liked the show, the music was great and they really captured the aesthetics of the time. Unfortunately the venue (the Gasometer in Vienna) was catastrophic.