Senin, 28 Februari 2011
Alraune (1952) - Arthur Maria Rabenalt
The last film version to date of Hanns Heinz Ewers novel. It stars Hildegard Knef, Erich von Stroheim and Karlheinz Bohm. Here is the German language version.
John Seal wrote:
This fascinating German fantasy film stars the legendary Erich von Stroheim as Professor Jacob ten Brinken, a brilliant scientist who has played God and created the world's first test tube baby. Now fully grown, Alraune (Hildegard Knef) is a beautiful but affectless creature whose way with the opposite sex threatens to ensnare the Professor's nephew (a very young looking Carlheinz Bohm).
Alraune's amorality--presumably the result of being bred from the egg of a prostitute and the sperm of a murderer--has not been tempered by a spell in convent and now threatens to destroy the family legacy.
Though clearly set before World War II, the film reflects concerns about the misuses of science by the Nazi regime, though perhaps the conclusions it reaches are not that far afield from those of Dr. Mengele.
Alraune is a missing link between German expressionism and the Italian Gothic cinema of the early 1960s, with a dash of Jean Cocteau thrown in for good measure.
Alraune is the German word for the mandrake root. In folk legend, the mandrake grew beneath the hanged man, and it was the legendary discharge of semen from a hanged man which supposedly caused this plant to grow. In addition, there was another legend in which the mandrake, applied to a woman's nether regions, could instigate a pregnancy, with or without sexual contact from a living man.
This is a slow moving but strangely compelling film, and owes a lot to the beautiful actress in the title role. The subtext is also fascinating.