Unheimliche Geschichten (1919 film)

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Unheimliche Geschichten
Unheimliche Geschichten 1919.jpg
Directed by Richard Oswald
Produced by Richard Oswald
Screenplay by
Starring Anita Berber
Reinhold Schünzel
Cinematography Carl Hoffmann[1]
Production
company
Richard Oswald-Film AG
Release date
  • November 5, 1919 (1919-11-05) (Berlin)
Country Germany
Language German

Unheimliche Geschichten (lit. Uncanny Stories) is a 1919 German silent anthology film directed by Richard Oswald. The film is split into five stories: The Apparition, The Hand, The Black Cat, The Suicide Club and The Spectre.

Plot

At midnight in an antiquarian bookshop, Death, the Devil and Harlot step out of paintings and read five stories. The first is The Apparition, about a man and a woman who check into a hotel when the woman vanishes and everyone else denies she existed. It is later revealed that she died of the plague with the hotel management attempting to cover this up. The second story The Hand, is about two men who throw dice over a woman. The loser of the battle kills his opponent which leads to a ghostly hand of the victim getting revenge on his murderer. The third story is The Black Cat, about a drunk who murders his wife and hides her body in the walls of a cellear. The cat belonging to the husband eventually reveals the truth about the murder. The next story is The Suicide Club, about a detective who discovered a secret club and is then immediately chosen as their next victim. Although frightened, the detective outwits the club's president. The final story is The Spectre, about a braggart baron who neglects his wife which leads to her husband staging supernatural incidents that expose his rival's cowardice. After this story, the clock strikes one o'clock which leads the three story tellers back into their paintings.

Cast

Production

Unheimliche Geschichten was directed, produced and co-written by Richard Oswald.[1] The film stars Anita Berber, Reinhold Schunzel and Conrad Veidt as the Harlot, the Devil and Death in the opening sequence but also various different roles in each of the five stories.[1][2] Each story was based on an author's work, including Anselm Heine (The Appiration (1912)) Robert Liebmann (The Hand), Edgar Allan Poe (The Black Cat (1843)), Robert Louis Stevenson ("The Suicide Club" (1878)) and Richard Oswald (The Haunting).[1]

Release

Unheimliche Geschichten was first shown in Berlin on November 5, 1919.[1] In the book Directory of World Cinema: Germany, Volume 10 Katharina Loew described the film as the "critical link between the more conventional German mystery and detective films of the mid 1910s and the groundbreaking fantastic cinema of the early 1920s".[2]

Reception

From contemporary reviews in Germany, the Berliner Tageblatt praised the acting of Conrad Veidt, the lighting and that the film was effective without having a cast of thousands.[3] The review commented that the pace of the film did stagger at times.[3] Der Kinematograph, also praised Veidt and Oswalds' mastery of film.[4]

From retrospective reviews, Loew has stated that the film did not age well, specifically pointing out the acting which would strike "today's viewers as rather labored."[2] Loew also critiqued the interiors of the film as "unconvincing and ramshackle" and the episodes of the film were uneven.[2]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Unheimliche Geschichten". Filmportal.de. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Loew 2012, p. 43.
  3. ^ a b "Unheimliche Geschichten" (in German). Filmportal.de. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "Unheimliche Geschichten" (in German). Filmportal.de. Retrieved June 12, 2016.

References

  • Loew, Katharina (2012). "Weird Tales". In Langford, Michelle. Directory of World Cinema: Germany. Intellect Books. ISBN 9781841505824.

External links

  • Unheimliche Geschichten on IMDb
  • Unheimliche Geschichten at YouTube.
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