Pages

25 May 2017

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus (1925)

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925) was a prestigious Ufa production, produced by Erich Pommer. Lil Dagover, Paul Hartmann and Rudolf Forster were the stars of the film. The script was written by Thea von Harbou, based on Theodor Storm's novella A Chapter in the History of Grieshuus. Zur Chronik von Grieshuus was a late naturalist example of German Expressionism and it was Von Gerlach's most famous film.

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 25/5. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925) with Lil Dagover and Rudolf Rittner.

A fierce feud 


The story of Zur Chronik von Grieshuus evolves around 1700 in Holstein. Hinrich (Paul Hartmann), eldest son of the rich feudal landowner (Arthur Kraussneck), falls in love with Bärbe (Lil Dagover), daughter of the serf Owe Heiken (Rudolf Rittner).

Hinrich's father is adamantly against this, wants to disinherit his son and during a row between the two the father dies.

The return of his brother Detlev, with an unscrupulous aristocratic bride of his own and a rival claim to their father's estates, proves to be the trigger for tragedy.

There is a fierce feud between Hinrich and his younger brother Detlev (Rudolf Forster), who claims the house and the estate for himself. With all means he tries to split Hinrich and Bärbe.

Bärbe has become pregnant and because of the family fights she gives early birth to her child, while she dies herself. Hinrich strikes Detlev down and flees. The child, Enzio (Hanspeter Peterhans), is lovingly raised by the house's staff.

But Detlev's widow Gesine (Gertrud Welcker) wants to claim Grieshuus and plots to kidnap the child. Hinrich suddenly returns, saves his child from the clutches of Gesine and manages to reclaim Grieshuus.

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 25/4. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925) with Lil Dagover.

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 25/3. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925).

A marvellous unity


Principal photography for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus took place from May 1923 to November 1924 around the Lüneburg Heath and Neubabelsberg. The premiere was at the famous Zoo Palast in Berlin on 11 February 1925.

Oskar Kalbus in Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst: "Arthur von Gerlach has revived the old spiritual-melancholic ballad Chronik von Grieshuus (after a novella by Theodor Storm) on the Northern-German heath and has connected it with the people (Lil Dagover, Paul Hartmann and Rudolf Forster) and their fates into a marvellous unity."

Paimann’s Filmlisten: "The subject is exciting, right from he start and is developed with clarity, while film direction has been the best, which shows in particularly in the wonderfully evocated atmosphere of the heath and the buildings that seem to rise out of it. Cinematography and performance are excellent, even if, due to the plot and certainly wanted by the maker, darkness reigns the whole film."

Igenlode Wordsmith at IMDb, after seeing the film at the 2005 BFI London Film Festival: "It's not very often that one gets the chance to attend the international premiere of a film first made some eighty years previously! (...) this is no Beyond the Rocks, mythologised by the mere fact of its loss, but a film worthy of taking its place in the canon of German silents; the director's early death was a loss to posterity. It is beautifully filmed, expressively acted and distinctive in its extensive use of location photography."

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 25/2. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925).

Zur Chronik von Grieshuus
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 25/1. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Zur Chronik von Grieshuus/The Chronicle of the Gray House (Arthur von Gerlach, 1925). Attention: I didn't follow the numbers on the cards in this post, but the storyline of the film.

Source: Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

No comments: