The Mistress of Atlantis (1932)

Article #390 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 4-9-2002
Posting date: 9-2-2002

Two soldiers on a mission in the Sahara desert are captured and held prisoner by the residents of Atlantis and their queen, Antinea.

I have never seen PANDORA’S BOX, but I am aware of the movie’s reputation and am looking forward to catching it one of these days. This has become even more true after watching this movie, directed by the same man, G. W. Pabst. I’d seen the 1922 version of the movie with Italian title cards, but I was never able to figure out the story; I’ll get back to it now that I’ve seen this one and have an idea of what’s going on.

When I’d reviewed the earlier version, I made the comment that it seemed similar to SHE. Seeing this one, I can say that it is similar in terms of plot, but the comparison ends there; though the various versions of SHE that I’ve seen have all been entertaining, not a one of them has been as compelling as this movie. There is a real sense of exotic mystery that never dissipates, and the breathtaking shots of the desert and the blowing sand are exquisite. This was one of three versions made concurrently in different languages, mostly with the same cast; I notice that one of the ways they made this work was to keep the dialogue to a minumum for certain characters; Brigitte Helm (who plays Antinea) has only a handful of lines in this version. Therefore, it relies on visuals and the commentary of certain key characters to tell its story. I found myself drawn into this world and totally caught up in the story, a rarity for lost civilization movies, most of which have a little too much silliness to them. This movie is a rare and somewhat unexpected treasure; it has proven to be one of the best movies to come up in my movie-watching project that I hadn’t already seen before.


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