Variete is a silent German film, first released in 1925 and presented here as part of the Masters of Cinema series #160. It is based on the novel The Oath of Stephan Huller by Felix Hollaender.
This release features 3 different scores, each of which is quite capable of destroying your will to live long before the credits roll and also the full American version of the film, which boasts someone hammering on an organ incessantly for the duration and makes your brain itch.
The film opens in a prison, as we see prisoner number 28 brought before the warden for an opportunity to tell his story after 10 years of imprisonment. The man in question is Boss Huller (Emil Jannings – The Last Laugh, The Blue Angel), once a well respected trapeze artist and acrobat, but now running a seedy sideshow in a fairground in Hamburg.
He lives in a caravan with his wife (Maly Delschaft – Alibi) and baby, but is not really satisfied with the way his life has gone. When a friend and ship captain turns up one day with an orphan girl he has named Berta Marie (Lya De Putti – Buck Privates, The Heart Thief), Boss immediately sees an opening and wastes no time in deserting his now redundant wife and heading off to Berlin with his new love to set up a trapeze show.
His new found happiness will be severely tested however by the arrival of Artinelli (Warwick Ward -The Way of Lost Souls, La Venenosa), a talented but unscrupulous trapeze artist who wishes to amalgamate the two acts.
This is undoubtedly a very good conversion, the picture is crisp and the soundtracks, although dreadful, are well restored. This may appeal to a certain audience and if you are into watching chubby Germans bickering for an hour and a half then you should definitely add this one to your collection.
DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES including:
· New 2015 high-definition digital restoration by the FWMS
· Three scores: one by Stephen Horne, one by The Tiger Lillies, and one by Johannes Contag
· PCM audio on the Blu-ray
· Optional English subtitles for the German intertitles
· The complete American version of the film
· PLUS: A booklet featuring new writing on the film and archival images
Variete is available to buy now on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray