Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Henny Porten, Emil Jannings, Paul Hartmann, Ludwig Hartau, Aud Egede Nissen
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 12/05/2006 Run time: 118 minutes
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A good historic costume drama
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 12/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is one of four in KINO Video's "Lubitsch in Berlin" series which is bound to become an integral part of our modern-day collection and understanding of silent films because it highlights the eclectic work of one of Germany's leading film-makers and subsequently one of Hollywood's legendary directors, Ernst Lubitsch. Unlike the bulk of German silent films known today, many of which are in the Expressionist style, Lubitsch's films stand out as very different, and in particular his comedies have a unique style of their own. But I also found this serious drama, "Anna Boleyn", interesting to watch in light of Lubitsch's other work and that of contemporary German directors. "Anna Boleyn" is the tragic real-life story of Henry VIII's second wife who was persuaded into marriage after King Henry managed to annul his first marriage by making himself head of the church in England, then summarily dumped in favour of another woman when Anna gave birth to a girl instead of a male heir. Both leading roles convey characters and emotions, so that "Anna Boleyn" is more than just a dry account of history. Renowned German actor, Emil Jannings, is just perfect is his role of the lecherous King Henry VIII, and lesser known actress Henny Porten surely has the audience on her side throughout the film as the innocent but brave Anna Boleyn. Although 2 hours in length, there are no dull moments, and the story moves along steadily to its predictable and tragic climax, and along the way we are treated to a grand display of period costumes. This film shows that Lubitsch was able to match his contemporaries worldwide in this genre of costume or historic dramas, while also finding success with a range of comedies, both in his native Germany and later in the US. I have just a few minor quibbles to this DVD, such as the picture quality being slightly less than perfect when it comes to faces and detail, and the old-style lettering throughout the film being just a little difficult to read at times. There is a very good piano accompaniment, but I can imagine that an orchestral score with music of the period would enhance this film even more. History buffs shouldn't be disappointed with "Anna Boleyn" though, and as part of the `Lubitsch in Berlin' series also an important addition for serious film enthusiasts as well.
Lots Of Spectacle But Little Else.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 12/09/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have always been surprised by the fact that the great German born director Ernst Lubitsch first made his reputation by a series of large scale silent costume dramas such as THE EYES OF THE MUMMY, MADAME DU BARRY (PASSION), and this film. Today he is remembered and revered for his comic touch in such talking films as NINOTCHKA and TO BE OR NOT TO BE and that is how it should be. The epic films are gorgeous to look at with large scale sets, elaborate costumes, and hundreds of extras but nothing that D.W. Griffith hadn't done better a few years earlier.
Unfortunately the acting in most of these movies has dated badly and is so over the top that any sense of drama is quickly lost. That is especially true of ANNA BOLEYN (1920) one of four new DVD releases from Kino International highlighting Lubitsch in Berlin. Henny Porten as the title character is so emotionally overwrought as to be laughable which is clearly not the intention here. Emil Jannings, not exactly known as the subtlest of actors, seems positively restrained in comparison and it's clear to see where Charles Laughton got his portrayal of Henry VIII from. But to be fair to Porten, this exaggerated style is typical of other Lubitsch dramatic heroines as well including Pola Negri who would come with him to America and become a big star (she's also in SUMURAN and THE WILDCAT which are part of this set). The film looks great with subtle tints and proper framing and features an appropriate but underpowered musical background. An orchestral score would have softened the histrionics.
It's a good thing that Lubitsch discovered comedy otherwise he would have wound up only a footnote in cinema history. For a look at where his true talent lay, check out the comic doublebill THE OYSTER PRINCESS/I DON'T WANT TO BE A MAN also in this group of new releases along with THE WILDCAT. They are as funny today as they were in 1920 and point the way to the great Ernst Lubitsch of the future."
I didn't know this existed!! The most lifelike Henry VIII e
MRT | Chicago | 09/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit that being a Tudor history film buff, I had no idea that this movie existed until I saw some of it's footage used in Simon Schama's DVD set "A History of Britain." I saw that footage shocked in the realization that the person playing Henry VIII looked more like him than any other successor actors. This includes the great Charles Laughton & Keith Mitchell. Therefore I sought it out and was pleased to find that the restored version was available by Kino films.
The restoration is impressive, the story is extremely inaccurate, and Anne is made to be the unknowing helpless victim in all of this (which most historians disagree with). The costumes are great, although the ones for Henry are perfection (based on the Holbein and other contemporary portraits). However, Emil Jannings IS Henry VIII. It's almost as if Holbein's famous portrait became alive. I later heard that this performance by Emil Jannings was Charles Laughton's inspiration for his later portrayals around 10 to 30 years later ("Young Bess" and "The Private Life of Henry VIII").
Although the film is silent, and the music can be quite annoying at times, you really believe that this man is Henry VIII in all his uncompromising and regal glory. Henny Porten ("Anne Boleyn") did overact, but I think given the times, she did a fine job. You have to remember that overacting at this time was necessary because words could not convey emotion, and the titles were very brief.
I highly recommend this film for anyone to add to their costume drama library. Although it's silent, it's very entertaining, and delivers as much as some of the films of today ("The Other Boleyn Girl", "Elizabeth"). If anything, get it to see Emil Jannings as the quintessential Henry VIII!