Mittwoch, Januar 11, 2006

"Sylvester" (1924) By Lupu Pick


Lupu Pick’s “Sylvester” is the perfect example of “Kammerspiele”, but , since this German is afraid that you don’t speak the most eloquent of languages but only a primitive and ordinary one, I will tell you that in, your rough tongue, that word means “intimate theatre”. Kammerspiele films are set in closed spaces, Teutonic tales of ordinary lives but with strong Expressionist influences.
This remarkable film is by the director Lupu Pick, who was Rumanian by birth but German by adoption, it is, together with “Scherben” (1921), a great and fascinating film for it’s design, screenplay and perfect film direction.

The film is set in a bar on New Year’s Eve. We see plenty of Germans swilling beer nonstop (such is the custom among my middle class countrymen). The owner of the bar and his wife await the arrival of his mother for a little celebration together. Nevertheless it will not take much time for tension to build between the two women (you know, even non aristocratic German women are hard natured), giving rise finally to an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility. The man is caught in the middle and is finally pushed to the brink.

As this German count said before, this is a very distinguished “Kammerspiele” film and takes place mostly on one set, thus focusing the attention of the audience on the actors' performances. The actors in “Sylvester” are great; they create vivid human portraits full of the contradictions and jealousies of people who experience joy and tragedy in an unexpected way.
Herr Pick has put together, in an elegant and accurate way, the familiar atmosphere of New Year's celebrations with simultaneous and different scenes of the same night: he cuts between the bar with its happy clients and the crowded main street with plenty of different types of people celebrating in their own way. Pick contrasts the poor people and their humble gatherings on the street with the hullabaloo of the private and elegant dance parties held by the newly rich (don’t be tricked, these are sickly imitations of the genuine and aristocratic ones), but in the midst of this supposed joyousness, Pick gives us a mosaic of turmoil and tragedy just under the surface.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must attend another exciting New Year's Eve soiree, because for us, German aristocrats, each night of the year is New Year’s Eve.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien



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“Sylvester” de Herr Lupu Pick es el perfecto ejemplo de lo que se denomina “Kammerspiele”, pero como mucho se teme este Conde germánico que ustedes no hablan lenguas elegantes sino otras más ordinarias y salvajes, les diré que eso en su tosco idioma significa “cine de cámara”, filmes que se desarrollan en espacios cerrados, cine intimista teutón con fuertes influencias expresionistas.
Esta celebrada obra del director rumano de adopción germánica, Lupu Pick, es, conjuntamente con “Scherben”, una obra realmente fascinante y magnífica tanto por su diseño, guión e impecable realización.

Durante la celebración de la noche de fin de año, una pareja que regenta un bar lleno de germanos bebiendo cerveza sin parar, ( algo habitual entre mis compatriotas de clase media ) reciben la visita de la madre del dueño, una reunión familiar para celebrar los tres, el año nuevo.
Sin embargo, no tardarán en surgir discrepancias entre las dos mujeres ( y es que ya se sabe, las señoritas germánicas tienen mucho carácter aunque no sean aristocráticas ), dando lugar finalmente a un clima hostil y lleno de recelos, que pondrán al hijo y marido de ambas en una situación límite.

Cómo comentaba anteriormente éste Conde germánico, si algo caracteriza al “Kammerspiele” es el uso de un espacio cerrado como prácticamente único escenario de la historia, recayendo la atención, sobretodo, del espectador en las interpretaciones de sus protagonistas, actores que en “Sylvester” están realmente magníficos, mostrándonos retratos de personas atormentadas, contradictorias, llenas de celos y que pasarán de la alegría a la tragedia de forma inesperada.
Combina el director Herr Pick de forma elegante y precisa en el filme, el ambiente cerrado y hostil familiar que transcurre en la parte trasera del bar, con escenarios diferentes y simultáneos de la misma noche: la sala principal del bar con sus clientes dicharacheros, la tumultuosa calle principal con gente diversa que celebra de diferente forma la llegada de un nuevo año, combinando el director contrastes de pobreza en la misma calle con la desenfrenada algarabía de fiestas privadas repletas de gente elegante y bailona ( de todas formas no se confundan, esas fiestas de nuevos ricos poco tienen que ver con las genuínas y aristocráticas ), un perfecto puzzle de tumultos y tragedias particulares.

Y ahora si me lo permiten les dejo momentáneamente, pues este Conde germánico tiene que asistir a otra excitante “soirée” de fin de año, pues para los aristócratas germánicos, todos los días del año son vísperas de año nuevo.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien

Kommentare:

Herr Schweigstill hat gesagt…

Dear Herr Graf,
may I add an unworthy comment to this silent masterpiece and let your Highness know that SYLVESTER was one of the earliest German movies that used camera pan as film style. Screen writer was the honourable Carl Mayer, writer of several German Expressionist scripts, who planned even more pans. But director Pick who has a more psychological background with his slow Kammerspiele style could not really make use of that. Later when Mayer and F.W.Murnau worked together on DER LETZTE MANN both pressed ahead with camera movement, a style that became famous as the "entfesselte Kamera". And now, if you allow, I have to go out feeding the chicken.

Ferdinand Von Galitzien hat gesagt…

It seems that from time to time there is some nicely behaved
German long-haired youngster that knows how to treat the aristocracy...

Ah, the entfesselte Kamera!!... how many memories!!...
Well, this German Count must admit that didn't know nothing about those "pan-planned-Kammerspiele-scripts stories but you must understand that for the aristocracy our most important worries are about how to stir the "Manhattan" mixture well with a cocktail spoon.

Go, mein liebe Herr Schweigstill, go out feeding the chicken, afterwards those ordinary birds will feed this German Count.

ondee hat gesagt…

Hi, Ferdinand,

I have seen the film recently. I don't know what is "Kammerspiel" because it have not as yet had the opportunity for seeing that kind of play. Anyway, after seeing it, I would assume that it is not a play situated in Kammer but a narrative situation formed by only two or three character play is referred to as Kammer.

cordially yours,

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Ferdinand Von Galitzien hat gesagt…

Mein lieber Ondee:

This German Count can say that "Kammerspiele" films were one of the most important German "genre films" together with German Expressionist during the silent period; "Kammerspiele" ( literally "chamber play ) is a style of expressionist naturalism and the main characteristics of these films are its sparse decor, a mininum of characters, supression of titles and rigorous unity of time, place and action.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien