IMDb Rating 6.3 10 566


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July 22, 2019



Ernst Lubitsch as Yeggar - the Hunchback
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876.1 MB
23.976 fps
85 min
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1.65 GB
23.976 fps
85 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by claudio_carvalho 7 / 10 / 10

One Arabian Night Tale

In the Orient, a troupe arrives in a village and the hunchback Yeggar (Ernst Lubitsch) is in love with the dancer Yannaia (Pola Negri), who is desired by every men. However, Yannaia has been invited by the slave trader Achmed (Paul Biensfeldt) and is enthusiastic to join the harem of the cruel and tyrannical Old Sheik (Paul Wegener). But when the Young Sheik (Carl Clewing) sees Yannaia, he also desires her and allows the troupe to exhibit in the streets of his village. Meanwhile, the favorite concubine of the Old Sheik, Sumurun (Jenny Hasseqvist), and the cloth merchant Nur-al Din (Harry Liedtke) are in love with each other. However, the Old Sheik mistakenly believes that the Young Sheik desires her and he decides to punish Sumurun. However, the harem decides to help her to be with her beloved Nur-al Din. "Sumurun" is one Arabian Night tale divided in six acts with a story of passion, desire, love and jealousy. The story blends drama and romance and fans like me of silent movies will certainly enjoy this film like I did. My vote is seven. Title (Brazil): "Sumurun"

Reviewed by Steffi_P 8 / 10 / 10

"Show us your most beautiful cloth"

Today, in the UK at least, the word "pantomime" means songs, dances, dames, villains to be booed, out of work actors, "He's behind you", and generally a good time to be had by all. It has developed out of longstanding traditions of popular theatre common throughout Europe, known at one point as "low opera". Sumurun, a German pantomime with which renowned theatre producer Max Reinhardt had great success in the mid-1910s, is not a familiar story, but the wild and wonderful tone with which it is played bears some similarities to how we understand the genre today. Funnily enough, in the US the term pantomime is often used as synonym for "mime", in the Marcel Marceau sense, and indeed highly expressive acting in silent cinema is often referred to as "pantomime". Looking at the film version of Sumurun, it seems this is perhaps not entirely coincidental. Like the majority of Ernst Lubitsch pictures from this period, it takes place in a gloriously hammy world where actors grimace and gesticulate with shameless glee. Thank goodness for Lubitsch's sense of humour. By peppering Sumurun with touches of his absurd genius, he prevents it from being over-earnest and unintentionally funny. The Lubitsch style of comedy is nowhere near as pronounced as it was in all-out farces such as The Oyster Princess or The Wildcat, but it serves to soften the silliness of the melodrama with which it coexists. The comedy and melodrama do not interfere with each other, because the situations in themselves are not funny. Instead there is a line drawn between serious characters, and characters who exist purely to be comical. Incidentally, the occasional moments where the line blurs and the comedy figures get swept into the tragedy are among the most poignant I have seen in all of Lubitsch's work. You see, Lubitsch was not just a master of screen comedy, he was a real craftsman of screen drama. Integral to Sumurun is his use of movement in depth. From the opening shot of a caravan approaching us from out of the desert, virtually all the motion is towards the camera. Often when characters look at each other, we are shown reverse angles in which they are virtually staring into the lens. It's almost a kind of audience participation (think pantomimes again!), in that we are made to feel we share the space of the film's world rather than that we look in on it. Conversely however Lubitsch sometimes frames the more dramatic events deep in the background, giving us a kind of panicky feel of separation. At this moment we should take time to consider the exquisite and elaborate set design of Kurt Richter, which here establishes contrasting tones for the different environments – a stark and barren outdoors, the squalid clutter of the poor district, and the rich opulence of the palace. This was the last appearance of Lubitsch himself as an actor, and one of the few examples of his acting that is easily available today. His eccentric performance lies at the hammy heart of Sumurun. It is a very Germanic style of theatrical comic acting, exaggerated to the point of being almost grotesque, but something great fun to watch in the right kind of setting, as those familiar with the best of Emil Jannings or Rudolph Klein-Rogge will know. However Lubitsch is outshone by his opposite number, the old hag played by Margarete Kupfer, who is again very overstated but in a manner that is entertaining, especially in her lurching drunk act. Paul Wegener is marvellous as the old sheikh, treading the line between pomposity and genuine menace, and thus very much in tune with the picture as a whole. Finally an honourable mention goes to the handful of black supporting actors, who appear in a number of Lubitsch pictures and whose names I have never been able to find. None of these guys especially stands out, but they are all clearly adept at the Lubitsch comedy form of sudden reactions and surprise expressions. Sumurun is not without its detractors. True, the complexity of the interwoven subplots, the fast-paced editing and the lack of intertitles make it a little hard to follow. Also I accept that the acting styles may seem a little inappropriate and jarring to some. But I also feel that those who would demand comprehensibility or naturalism from a picture like this are really missing the point. You need to buy into the sweeping melodramatics and theatrical slapstick, and simply let it all wash over you without taking any of it too seriously. In fact, people who don't like Sumurun are probably the same sort of people who would not enjoy shouting "Oh no it isn't!" at a bunch of out-of-work actors in tights. Pantomime: A distinct art form that must be accepted it for what it is.

Reviewed by rsoonsa 8 / 10 / 10

A happy result of Lubitsch homage to Reinhardt

The richness of Max Reinhardt's stage direction of Friedrich Feska's play, THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, is transferred and adapted to the screen by Reinhardt's protege Ernst Lubitsch who, in his final acting performance, as the hunchback clown Buckliger, heads a sterling internationally flavored cast which he directs with his customary vigor in this German production, one of the last films made by Lubitsch in Europe. Upon the stage a masque, SUMURUN is remedied by Lubitsch of its static quality as he prescribes a non-stop folly of exuberance which the polyglot players are quite capable of providing, in particular Paul Wegener (Germany), Pola Negri (Poland), Aud Egede Nissen (Norway) and Jenny Hasselqvist (Sweden), each of whom performs strongly and adds lagniappes of interpretation to the scenario of Hans Kraly. Lubitsch, a veteran of the Yiddish stage, generally as Meyer the Jew, is a clear guide to his actors in this melodramatic tale of a sheikh (Wegener) who desires to add an itinerant dancing girl (Negri) to his harem because of his dissatisfaction with his principal houri (Hasselqvist) who in turn desires a young wandering merchant with whom she shares a strong physical attraction. Buckliger is in love with the gypsy dancer, but the mulatta role portrayed by the diminuitive Negri is one who has learned to trust only the adornments of wealth and is therefore most willing to become a harem resident, a prospect which she finds most cordial although, of course, many complications come about involving, among others, the son of the sheikh. Lubitsch's unique style, which incorporates the frequent use of innuendo, found favor in Hollywood, principally with Mary Pickford who, because of her viewing of SUMURUN, was able to entice the director to the United States, bringing Negri with him, as they had shared many Continental successes, and after her career was macerated by her emotional excess and strong accent, the director continued on to great acclaim, praised for his "Lubitsch touch". This touch is in evidence in this silent German film as it continued to be in his subsequent English language efforts and is essentially the conjugating of the lashes of one eye.

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