Intertitle of the Week: Genuinely Nuts

“The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness.”

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It can now be confirmed: Robert Wiene’s GEUINE is completely insane. Although, in the truncated form available at present, at least some of its apeshit incoherence may be down to the unwitting juxtapositions wrought by wanton pruning. So much footage has been stripped out that it’s often hard to figure out which intertitle belongs to which character.

Given the violence meted out to Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS, which was not only shortened, with entire plot-lines cast to the winds, but moronically rewritten (to make Rotwang’s robot a “worker of the future” rather than a replacement for his dead wife, for instance), there’s simply no knowing what GENUINE must be like in its genuine form — until I see a longer edit, that is. It may prove to be slow, rational and pedantic. If so, the butchers who hacked it about may have done it a favour, because the expressionist design certainly compliments the narrative frenzy.

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Genuine is some kind of high priestess of a barbaric tribe somewhere or other who gets sold into slavery and brought to somewhere or other by an old Mr Burns type gentleman wearing high heels who keeps her in a glass pyramid in his house —

Then hairdressing comes into it. Hairdressing seems to be quite important in this picture. And everybody has mad, expressionist hair, which makes sense. Oh, except the old gent, who’s bald. He’s the one who has a hairdresser visit him every week. Makes sense.

Genuine escapes from her greenhouse and molests the young relative of the hairdresser. Some other stuff happens. Oh, and it’s all a dream that Peter the Painter is having. Or is it?

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The script is by Carl Mayer, maybe the most interesting of all the writers in Germany at this time (CALIGARI, THE LAST LAUGH, SUNRISE). I love the extracts from German silent scripts that Lotte Eisner reproduces in her books. They’re all like,

The staircase. Dusk.

Now a shadow falls.

He!

Terrific stuff. Check out his IMDb bio for a sad story. I blame the British.

The mutilation of GENUINE is presumably the work of Raymond Rohauer, from whose collection the copy comes. And this week’s Hitchcock, JAMAICA INN, has also passed through RR’s sweaty hands, acquiring some bogus titles at the start — it was Rohauer’s habit to alter films in order to obtain copyright control over them. A slightly dubious character (he also collected images of bloody auto wrecks, for masturbatory purposes, I fear), he nevertheless can be credited with preserving many films that might otherwise have been lost altogether, including the entire directorial output of Buster Keaton.

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10 Responses to “Intertitle of the Week: Genuinely Nuts”

  1. Christopher Says:

    I watched this several months back.I was intending to watch Calagari,but it was getting too late so I watched this on the disc instead since it was shorter..I’ll have to watch it again..I’m not exactly sure of what all I was seeing..

  2. I don’t think an earlier-in-the-day viewing would help. The shortening is not so much bad, in the way the shortening of Ambersons is bad — it’s utterly inept, creating total confusion. This makes it in some ways a more interesting experience than Caligari, since the narrative chaos matches the visual madness. But even with the plot kinks straightened out, it’d be a strange story.

    Don’t watch it when you’re high — watch it and BECOME high.

  3. david wingrove Says:

    GENUINE is a truly overwhelming experience, in however cropped and truncated a form!

    Fern Andra may be greatest deranged femme fatale in movie history, and the designs would put Fellini’s JULIET OF THE SPIRITS to shame.

    I actually prefer it to THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI, which has some hauntingly beautiful moments, but spends too much time trying to make logical sense.

  4. Well, nobody could accuse Genuine of spending time on anything, least of all sense. It races through its “narrative” like a drunken joyrider who’s commandeered one of those light-cycles from TRON, and makes no sense whatsoever. This film shouldn’t be analysed, it should be breathalysed!

  5. Off-topic but Clint Eastwood turns 79 today.

  6. Happy birthday Clint! I look forward to his octogenarian output: Hollywood needs for eighty-year-olds making films.

  7. Arthur S. Says:

    Life begins at 79!

  8. Christopher Says:

    at 79,hes just now really hitting his stride at Directing..I’m anxious to see anything of his now,hope he can keep up the good work a little longer..
    Possible my favorite Cabinet…”Caligari in a nutshell”

  9. “it was Rohauer’s habit to alter films in order to obtain copyright control over them”

    Which sadly reveals how copyright (whom, we’re told, is there to protect the rights of authors and artists) REALLY works.

    I’ve got a couple of personal stories about Copyright issues. Just hair-raising.

  10. Colorisation has been used to finagle copyright control over stuff too. Scary.

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