DIE INSEL DER SELIGEN (1913)
aka Island of the Blessed
Article 4890 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Max Reinhardt
Featuring Paul Davidson, Erika De Planque, Wilhelm Diegelmann
What it is: Odd fantasy
Two young women, two young men, two rotund fathers, and two weird suitors all visit an island inhabited by the Roman gods, who proceed to interfere with their lives.
The intertitles are in German on this silent film, so I couldn’t rely on them to help me with sorting out the plot. The basic premise is fairly clear, though; several mortals find their lives changed due to the interference of a gaggle of gods. It’s basically a variation on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with one crucial difference; by the end of the movie, the gods do not undo the damage and mischief they’ve done, and the ending is a bit grotesque. In fact, it’s not just the ending that is grotesque; some of the human characters seem a little bizarre and twisted, and though I suspect these are supposed to be comic touches, it’s rather hard to tell. The end result is a movie that, instead of coming across as comic, comes across as weird and unsettling. Incidentally, Max Reinhardt was a noted theatrical director who is primarily remembered for having helmed the 1935 version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.