PEST IN FLORENZ (1919)
aka The Plague in Florence
Article 5388 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Otto Rippert
Featuring Theodor Becker, Karl Bernhard, Julietta Brandt
What it is: Historical horror
The arrival of a beautiful seductress brings turmoil to the oppressed town of Florence. When her presence leads to the murder of the city’s ruler by his son, the town gives in to hedonism and debauchery. But there will be a price to pay…
The copy I found of this movie has German intertitles with French translations; in other words, no English. However, I didn’t have a lot of trouble following it for several reasons. One is that I managed to find a few useful plot descriptions. It also helped that with two sets of languages to choose from on the title cards, there were more clues I could follow to understand them. But an even bigger factor may be that the acting in this movie is… well, let’s just say it’s not subtle. Though this would normally count against a movie, it’s actually helpful when you’re struggling with a language problem; at the very least, you know how the characters feel about their experiences. If the horror content isn’t clear from the plot description, let me just say that the plot eventually centers around a plague in the city, and we have a skeletal female figure personifying the plague. We also get a short trip through hell as well as some mystical moments to add to the fantastic content. It’s all perhaps a bit over the top, but it is entertaining and effective. The final scene is definitely memorable. Incidentally, the script was written by Fritz Lang and is partially based on Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”.