The Monday Intertitle: Mountain Man

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Bolstering my negative capability, already given a workout by the intricacies of the Allen-Farrow case, I perused Paul Wegener’s 1916 RUBEZAHLS HOCHZEIT, which had German intertitles, untranslated, and with the added advantage of being completely illegible due to the poor picture quality of my DVD. I decided to see what kind of plot-line I could discern, or concoct, from the proceedings.

The film is Wegener’s third, following the crucially important STUDENT OF PRAGUE and THE GOLEM (now mostly lost), and it’s co-directed with Rochus Gliese. It’s another supernatural/mythic kind of story, I think.

I like Rochus Gliese because his name is Rochus Gliese. But not as much as I like Lupu Pick.

Well, there’s this giant — he looms over a mountaintop, some tree branches in the foreground to completely convince me he’s the size of Godzilla. I believe it. He also has a walking stick made from a tree. His beard is impressive — immensely long, rigid and shaggy, as if he had Sean Connery’s arm growing from his chin. But then he goes for a walk and starts interacting with a normal landscape and it seems he’s a regulation-sized bloke who merely dresses like a giant, or a caveman or something. There are some sylphs wafting about in diaphanous robes, paddling in brooks and bothering a deer. He chases them, as you do.

Wegener has lost me already!

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Don’t know what it says.

Ahah! The late F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, who was no stranger to confusion himself, provides an illuminating account of the character’s mythic origins. Since “Froggy” specialised in reviewing lost films as if he had seen them, it’s cheering to discover that this one at least still exists, even if my copy is pretty murky. His summary of the film at least confirms that the hirsute hill-walker is tall Paul himself. I should have recognized those cheekbones, each one like an elephant’s cranium. And it seems that the giant is only metaphotically mountainous — he is OF THE MOUNTAIN, or something.

Despite the German enthusiasm for Alps, RUBEZAHL seems to be the one fantasy film NOT remade either in the twenties, or with sound, or under Hitler, or after the war. Poor Rube.

9 Responses to “The Monday Intertitle: Mountain Man”

  1. As close as I can get, the translation is: “I ask you, is this the right one for me?”

  2. Thanks! Now I just need to enlist your aid for every other title card in the film!

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    That shot reminds me of a Godzilla-size Emil Jannings looming over the lovely landscapes of Murnau’s FAUST.

  4. Yes, it might be the first rough sketch of that idea.

  5. I didn’t realize Froggy reviewed movies he’d actually seen. Are you the one person (out of one) who rated this one ‘useful’? The F Gwynplaine MacIntyre legacy continues!

  6. I forgot to rate it, but it clearly was useful!

    It’s possible of course that he HADN’T seen it but just knew about it.

    You know he can be seen in the Baby Peggy documentary, hovering around as Peggy is signing autographs at Pordenone? Makes you want to cry “Watch out! He’s behind you!”

  7. If you can find someone who can translate the relevant passage in PAUL WEGENER: EINE FRUHE MODERNE (2003) tby Heide S. that was reviewed by Thomas Elsaesser in http://www.sensesofcinema.com. you should acquire more information.

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