With a prolific career from the days of silent film to the talkie era, German film master Ernst Lubitsch was best known for bringing urbane comedies featuring wit, charm and sophistication to Hollywood. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Restored Treasures" series in July and August will present two of the director's classics to show his legendary "Lubitsch Touch".
"Ernst Lubitsch: From Silent to Sound" will show his last silent film, "Eternal Love", and his first talkie, "The Love Parade", both made in 1929, at 2pm on July 1 and August 5 respectively at the Cinema of the HKFA. A reference film adapted from "The Love Parade", director Tso Kea's "My Kingdom for a Husband" (1957), will also be shown at 5pm on August 5 at the HKFA.
Ernst Lubitsch was one of the best film directors of all time and his work has influenced many other filmmakers around the world. He established himself as an important filmmaker in Berlin, and later moved on to Hollywood, where his reputation and artistry reached even higher levels. Lubitsch was esteemed as the "Master of Innuendo" and his style was revered as being almost mystical.
"Eternal Love", Lubitsch's last silent film, shows that his greatness as a director was not limited to comedies. It was also the last silent film work of leading man John Barrymore. Based on a novel by Jakob Christoph Heer, the tale of love and war is set in the Swiss Alps, and is renowned for its smart direction, beautiful photography and heart-wrenching plot. The film had long been considered lost until a 16mm print was found in the collection of silent film star Mary Pickford. The screening will have live music accompaniment by Ernesto Maurice Corpus.
A witty comedy set in a fictional European country, "The Love Parade" is a chestnut of the Hollywood musical that has exerted great influence on Chinese and Hong Kong cinemas. It was Lubitsch's first sound film and features beautifully staged musical numbers. It also presented the screen debut of musical star Jeanette MacDonald, who is paired with the veteran Maurice Chevalier, a European transplant to Hollywood. The film was nominated for six awards in the second Academy Awards.
The reference film, director Tso Kea's remarkable "My Kingdom for a Husband", is an adaptation of "The Love Parade". Starring Cheung Ying, Law Yim-hing, Leung Sing-po and Tam Lan-hing, the film is a fascinating blend of Hollywood and Cantonese opera, featuring lavish Western sets, copycat European costumes and sumptuous musical numbers. The film was a huge hit, spawning a sequel and inspiring a host of other "Western costume" opera films.
The prints for the two Lubitsch films were restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Film critics Yung Tsz-kwong and Joyce Yang will share with the audience their views on film appreciation after the screenings of "Eternal Love" and "The Love Parade" respectively. The talks will be conducted in Cantonese.
"The Love Parade" is in English and "Eternal Love" has English intertitles. "My Kingdom for a Husband" is in Cantonese without subtitles.
Tickets for "Eternal Love" are now available at URBTIX outlets. Tickets for "The Love Parade" and "My Kingdom for a Husband" will be available from July 5. Tickets are priced at $50. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 63", which is distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage: www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011rt3/2011rt3_index.html.
Ends/Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A film still from "The Love Parade" (1929).
A film still from "My Kingdom for a Husband" (1957).