Friday, November 23, 2007

Casanova (1927)

I want to share another Mosjoukine film clip. This one is from his 1927 film Casanova. Mosjoukine plays the title role, of course. This is not his greatest film, though it is the last great one he made. Following 'Casanova', he went to Hollywood, made the not-good-at-all 'Surrender' with Mary Philbin, and then returned to Europe. But things were never the same, and the talkies came in almost immediately, which meant the end of his career.

But though it doesn't have the imaginative daring of some of his earlier, more serious movies, 'Casanova' is probably my favourite Mosjoukine film. 'Michel Strogoff' runs it a close second, but 'Casanova' has a lightness and charm that never fails. It's a comedy, for one thing, and Mosjoukine really was a fabulous comic actor. He was more known as the great romantic lead, but comedy was his true love.

The other thing that attracts me to 'Casanova' is the new score composed for it in 1980 by my favorite movie composer, Georges Delerue. 'Casanova' was one of the first silent movies to get the full restoration treatment (along with 'Napoleon'). It's interesting that the Germans have really taken over in silent film restoration, resulting in absolute gold-standard restorations like that on Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and other great Weimar films, but it was the French who were the first in the field. Technology has improved a lot since the 80s, but this restoration is still quite good. I daydream about how wonderful it would look if it were redone with modern techniques, but meanwhile we at least have this.


Blogger Dr. Alice said...

Ha! And, Wow! A beautifully filmed scene. Love the Sword Dance.

The only silent film I've really seen is "The General" with Buster Keaton which is, of course, wonderful - but I will have to try and track "Casanova" down.

9:50 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

It's well worth getting! But you won't find it in stores. This fellow sells copies of Mosjoukine's films on eBay, though you can contact him directly as well. We've corresponded a fair bit, and he's the one for whom I did the English translation of the titles for 2 other Mosjoukine films. I think he's got the best collection of Mosjoukine anywhere, but he also has other silent movies that are very hard to find. I must try "The Student of Prague" some day; I've always liked that old doppelganger ghost story.

10:23 pm  

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