Saturday, February 24, 2007


Jeanne Ney is the daughter of a diplomat in the Crimea, the last stronghold of the White Army in the Russian Civil War. The Love of Jeanne Ney is Andreas, a soldier, and, secretly, a Bolshevik. When the Red Army takes over, and Jeanne's father is shot, Jeanne returns to her family in Paris. Andreas also goes to Paris on a mission to organize a communist revolt.

Once in Paris, Jeanne gets a job working for her uncle's detective agency. A missing diamond and the appearance of Khalibiev, an unscrupulous scam artist who also escaped the Crimea, sets in motion a series of twists and schemes that leaves Andreas wrongfully accused of murder, and Jeanne looking for Khalibiev to clear his name.


Director G.W. Pabst's politics lean decidedly left. This is evidenced by his sympathetic portrayal of the Bolsheviks in the film. This is not surprising considering that he was a founding member of the Dacho, a German film workers organization. What is remarkable is that the production company, UFA, allowed it. In March 1927, the UFA was taken over by Nazi sympathizer Alfred Hugenberg.

Curiously, Pabst would return to Nazi occupied Austria and remain there during the war making three propaganda films for the Nazis. He would later claim that he was pressed into this service. A claim supported by his subsequent anti-Nazi postwar movies.


From a technical standpoint, Pabst was ahead of his time. Most films of the silent era are static medium shots, like a filmed play. Pabst's camera work is very dynamic (panning, dollying, and zooming) with lots of close-ups. I was also impressed by the depth of his shots; action or composition in the foreground, middle ground, and background, and frequent use of mirrors and other reflecting surfaces. This style would become the signature of Orson Welles decades later.

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