Asphalt (1929) German Expressionism English subs

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Added on March 30, 2016 by mikem777in Movies > iPad
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Asphalt (1929) German Expressionism English subs (Size: 1.47 GB)
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Asphalt (1929) German Expressionism English subs

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One of the last great German Expressionist films of the silent era, Joe May's Asphalt is a love story set in the traffic-strewn Berlin of the late 1920s. Starring the delectable Betty Amann in her most famous leading role, Asphalt is a luxuriously produced Ufa classic where tragic liaisons and fatal encounters are shaped alongside the constant roar of traffic.

A well-dressed lady thief (Betty Amann) steals a precious stone from a jewellery shop. The aged jeweller prefers to let the young woman go, but the policeman who catches her explains he is obliged to pursue the case further. She tries to seduce the policeman (Gustav Fröhlich), and he gradually succumbs to her charms, but her criminal background dooms their relationship when an argument leads to murder.

Betty Amann's salacious sensuality, May's grand direction, the spectacular sets by Erich Kettelhut, and the photography of Günther Rittau make this largely unknown film a major rediscovery. Until recently, Asphalt was available only in a shortened version with English-language inter-titles. In 1993 the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin) discovered a print of Asphalt at the Gosfilmofond archive in Moscow which appeared to have been struck from the original negative. The chronology of scenes in this print differs from existing versions and there are extra scenes together with the hitherto-unknown German intertitles.

Born Julius Otto Mandl in Vienna, 1880, Joe May is best remembered today for his two-part Das indische Grabmal [The Indian Tomb], co-scripted by the young Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou. He moved to London in 1933, then Hollywood, and was widely regarded as having discovered Lang, von Harbou and E. A. Dupont. May was one of the most productive cineastes of the silent screen and The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present his masterpiece Asphalt for the first time on DVD anywhere in the world.

From its amazing opening sequence of human and vehicular traffic sweeping through a nighttime cityscape entirely created inside the Ufa film factory, Asphalt marks a late addition to the eye-catching, mind-bending artistry of the German Expressionist cinema of the '20s.

Released in March 1929, when silents were on the way out, until recently it was just a title, and the source of a few grabby stills, in the film history books. In this most complete restoration yet, it stands as the ultimate "street film," a genre prized for bravura artifice and potent allegory. In such urban symphonies, the cinema was simultaneously defining and re-imagining the essence of modernity in images both hypnotically dark and ablaze with shattered light.

The story is a simple one, but told with psychological subtlety and strikingly fluid camerawork and editing. A young cop (Gustav Fröhlich, the hero of Metropolis) with rectitude in his veins apprehends a sneak thief (Betty Amann) in the act of stealing a diamond, then fails to turn her in. There's a gratifying mutuality to their seduction; although the lady's tiger-like leap upon her captor is astonishingly feral, she's soon as vulnerable and perplexed in their relationship as he is. A subplot involving her longtime lover, a master criminal (Hans Adelbert von Schlettow), eventually intersects with their love affair. Up to the very end -- which somewhat anticipates Robert Bresson's Pickpocket -- we can't be sure who's going to be sacrificed to save whom.

Director Joe May was no auteur on the order of Fritz Lang or F.W. Murnau; it's hard to locate an artistic personality in his movie. But he and cinematographer Günther Rittau had a state-of-the-art camera dolly to play with, making the German ideal of "the unfettered camera" a freewheeling reality. Amann is beguiling as a Louise Brooks knockoff, an ambulatory white fur under a cloche hat who evolves into a dark, hieratic figure of Fate.

tags: drama

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Asphalt (1929) German Expressionism English subs