English Title: Finances of the Grand Duke
Original Title: Die Finanzen des Großherzogs
Thea von Harbou
I am not sure silent films are still considered as a pilgrim’s treasure among cinephiles, yet the frustrating truth is that one could never ever watch all the masterpieces he/she desires during one lifetime, the more I grow older, the more I cannot endure wasting my insufficient time on films neither harbor awful reviews nor cannot ignite my interest. Thus, I cannot help oscillating whether silent films should fall into the latter category or not. This film actually is my second silent film I have watched since a rather long time, the previous one is SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (1927), Murnau’s work as well, of which actually I am deeply fond.
The major issue I cannot think highly of silent features is that without the voices from the characters, I feel literally detached from the story involved, which eventually will elicit some weariness of my attention on the screen, if it’s a comedy, maybe the situation is better as long as all the gags function as expected, otherwise, if the plot is a tad complex, it will lose me quickly. Actually this is exactly what this film has done to me, but in a lesser extent, I failed to distinguish each and every character (no idea which one is the main villain, no idea what’s the relationship between the professor and the princess Olga, just strangers or a couple indeed? Also the Chinese subtitle is lousy) and not well acquired what actually happened to the letter (what’s its importance on earth?). The accompanying piano score overshadows the narrative outright (I remember taking a short but comfortable nap with it).
The two-faced hue of the film (ochre and blackish green) could be the product after the film being restored, which serves favorably to remind audience be aware of the in-door/out-door milieu (have no idea it’s an intentional contrivance or something later-decorated).
Overall, compared with the utterly earnest SUNRISE, the film doesn’t impress me too much, the basic proof is that as a comedy, I didn’t generate any laughter from A to Z. Maybe the perversive but intriguing score should take the blame, and at least I feel so blessed thanks to the progress of technology, which has allowed the motion picture evolving into a more audience-friendly status as it is now (3D technology is excluded).