Did you spend your Thursday evening straying with Brigitte Helm? I hope so …
GW Pabst’s Abwege (1928) is, as Jay mentioned in his intro, a certain thread of what we think of when we imagine Weimar cinema. Not the exoticism of Expressionism of high-concept fiction, nor the relentless realism of Street Films, but a sampler of the era’s endless fetisished culture. This is a tale of infidelity, intrigue, independence and the famous temptations of the Berlin nightlife in the 1920s.
All this, plus Brigitte Helm in the lead role, a louchely mobile camera and some of the best nightclub sequences ever captured on film. And on Thursday night in the Virtual Verdi, a stunning new restoration from Filmmuseum München and some nimble accompaniment from Maur Colombis.
I won’t say too much more about this show, that I didn’t write here, in my post on the film itself.
I think that rewatching the film makes me appreciate Gustav Diessl’s performance more and more, though. You have to have watched it several times to be able to take your eyes off Helm for a second, I reckon.
I did, however, value the post-film discussion with Jay, Stefan Drössler and Mauro Colombis very much. Not only for Jay’s fabulously starry backdrop, but especially for Drössler clearly laying out the historical context of the film, and the reasons why it has been a little overlooked. As he says, it is a ‘cold’ film and it was a lower-budget work than something such as The Love of Jeanne Ney. It has now been overshadowed by his Brooks films too, but now it is available in this gorgeous restoration it should be more widely seen and treasured.
• Intertitle of the day: As the post-film discussion detailed, there’s very little conversation in the titles, and there’s nothing Helm can’t say with her eyes. Still, this line is very evocative of the Weimar corruption depicted in the movie: “What are you, a virtuous government official, doing here in this den of vice?!”
• Visit the Giornate website for more information.
• Silent London will always be free to all readers. If you enjoy checking in with the site, including reports from silent film festivals, features and reviews, please consider shouting me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page.
Heartening news from Paris, where the great Josephine Baker is to be granted a rare honour. The dancer, actress, film star, civil rights activist and hero of the French Resistance is to be memorialised in the Panthéon, Paris’s secular temple, after nearly a decade of campaigning. An inscription at the Panthéon reads: “To its great … Continue reading Josephine Baker enters the Panthéon – finally
As I talked about Musidora in my Philip French Memorial Lecture last month, here’s a little more about the French filmmaker, in a short piece that first appeared in Sight and Sound magazine two years ago, in September 2019, following the retrospective of her work at Il Cinema Ritrovato. “It is vital to be photogenic … Continue reading Musidora: Who? What? When? Where?
This week, I had the honour of delivering the Philip French Memorial Lecture at the Cinema Rediscovered festival in Bristol. Due to the strange times that we are living in, the lecture was livestreamed as well as being held in person at the Watershed Cinema. My task for the lecture was to talk about the … Continue reading Young cinema