Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Secrets of a Soul |
Actor: Werner Krauss
Director: G.W. Pabst
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
A Psychoanalytic Thriller Restored by the Munich Film Museum and the F.W. Murnau Foundation. In the 1920s, film studios around the world sought to capitalize on the public s curiosity about the newborn science of psychoana... more »
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Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 03/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are many people who consider G.W. Pabst to be the finest director of German silent cinema. I am not one of them. I find his movies to be poorly paced and lacking in visual interest. They are kept afloat by their adult subject matter and by the performances of his female stars (Greta Garbo in THE JOYLESS STREET, Edith Jehanne and Brigitte Helm in THE LOVE OF JEANNE NEY, and of course Louise Brooks in PANDORA'S BOX and DIARY OF A LOST GIRL). A prime example of this is THE WHITE HELL OF PILZ PAULU co- directed by Pabst and Arnold Fanck and starring Leni Riefenstahl. Compare the dramatic scenes with the rest of the film and I think you'll see my point which brings me to SECRETS OF A SOUL.
This was Pabst's follow-up to the highly successful JOYLESS STREET (1925). The subject matter and the film's raison d'etre is the "new" subject of psychoanalysis. The breakdown of the protagonist and the fascinatng dream sequences (designed by Erno Metzner) are true to the film's Expressionist roots while the unfolding analysis of his problems are still of interest to a modern audience. There is also an amazing central performance from Werner Krauss as the patient undergoing analysis that really holds the movie together.
Krauss may be the finest German performer from that time period. He has a greater range than Emil Jannings and is less stylized than Conrad Veidt. Unfortunately very little of his work survives and his most famous role (CABINET OF DR CALIGARI) doesn't do him justice. This film does. Also check out his Iago in the 1922 version of OTHELLO and Orgon in the 1925 TARTUFFE (both opposite Jannings). SECRETS OF A SOUL is part of the new Kino set GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM which contains 3 other films (CABINET OF DR CALIGARI, WARNING SHADOWS, and THE HANDS OF ORLAC). All of these films can be obtained seperately although if you don't have the others I highly recommend the set."
Impressive `educational entertainment'
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 03/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having read that "Secrets of a Soul" is a product of the German Ufa's 'culture film' branch aimed at educating the more high-brow and intellectual audience during the 1920s, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when I began watching. The opening scenes already firmly grabbed my attention as a normal domestic scene is shattered by news of a murder in a neighbouring house. When the husband goes to work shortly thereafter and hears that the neighbour was killed with a razor, he experiences a chain of events resulting in a sudden phobia of knives, including normal cutlery. This is preceded by a vivid and disturbing dream which is impressively depicted using styles and techniques unique to the German Expressionist genre of the 1920s. The rest of the film uses a variety of camera techniques to tell the story in a more realistic way so that the viewer can easily relate to the man with the phobia who feels he is going crazy. In fact, the entire film unfolds like a normal drama, and it is only in the latter half when the desperate man seeks help from a psychoanalyst that it begins to feel like the viewer is being educated while also being entertained. Ufa's producers were quite deliberate in this because Sigmund Freud's theories and treatments of psychological illness had just emerged on the world scene and were drawing a lot of interest and curiosity. The producers even wanted Freud's personal involvement or official approval for this film, but when he declined, two other psychologists of Freud's inner circle gave their assistance to make "Secrets of a Soul" as accurate a representation of psychoanalysis as possible. The result is quite impressive, interesting and entertaining, even if the layperson doesn't quite understand some of the dream interpretations or how a seemingly minor painful childhood experience lay dormant in the subconscious for many years and rose to the surface when triggered by certain events. No doubt films like this one led to the similar psychologically twisted Film Noir genre of the 1940s and the popular psycho-thrillers we have today, and the general viewer will already recognize the fundamental theories or teachings which were just being introduced in "Secrets of a Soul". The picture quality is very good, and an exceptionally skilful piano accompaniment suits the film quite well. In its 75 minutes running time, director GW Pabst adds much more interest, imagery and imagination than in any of his other available films I've seen so far. Besides being of special interest to anyone fascinated by psychology, this film also represents another aspect of German silent films, namely the `culture film' which is set firmly in reality and facts, as opposed to the more artistic, fantasy-like Expressionist style for which German silent cinema is usually best remembered nowadays.