Warning Shadows: A Nocturnal Hallucination (1923)

aka Schatten – Eine nachtliche Halluzination

Article 3586 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-21-2011
Posting Date: 6-9-2011
Directed by Arthur Robison
Featuring Alexander Granach, Max Gulstorff, Lilli Herder
Country: German
What it is: A shadowy warning

A count is afraid that his wife is engaging in acts of infidelity, a situation made more acute by the arrival of four male guests. Into this situation wanders an entertainer who specializes in shadow plays…

I found this one on YouTube. As originally presented, it had no intertitles, and this restoration of the film retains that quality, which means that you do have to rely on the visual cues to follow the story, which isn’t always easy. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating movie in the way that it explores how shadows can tell stories, and can equally well deceive the viewer; for example, the entertainer shows how it is possible to place candles in such a way to make it look as if two people are holding hands when they actually aren’t. Though the story is totally different, it has a plot device very similar to that of INVASION USA, though this may not be apparent until the very end of the movie. I found the movie quite engaging, if a little confusing at times, but it is one that I’d revisit to clarify some of the plot points. There are touches of magic at various points in the story; people and things occasionally disappear, and a sort of hypnotism may also be at work here. This is truly an interesting silent film to seek out.

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